'Bug-Sized' Drones Are The Most Frightening Type Of Killer Robot Yet

In the new issue of National Geographic, John Horgan details the rise of drones after 9/11 and their creep into American airspace.

One thing that stands out is that the defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has challenged researchers to build micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) that “hide in plain sight” by mimicking the size and behaviour of bugs and birds.

Consequently, the U.S. Air Force has constructed a 4,000 square foot “micro-aviary” for flight-testing small drones. Horgan wasn’t able to witness the work — much of which is classified — but he was shown an animated video showing bug- and-bird-like micro-drones “swarm through alleys, crawl across windowsills, and perch on power lines.”


Photo: U.S. Air Force

The potential for these “unobtrusive, pervasive, [and] lethal” mirco drones is very impressive as they would be able to work together while providing unprecedented surveillance access in cities and houses in addition to detecting aspects of the environment such as chemical presence.

mirco drones

Photo: U.S. Air Force

The potential is also terrifying since MAVs could be used in “direct attack missions” to covertly assassinate someone with a chemical or explosive payload (as the video shows).

mirco drone

Photo: Air Force

One comfort for those who may start distrusting mosquitoes and birds on the wires: ensuring that the MAVs can stay aloft for more than a few minutes will require advances in battery technology and may take years (if not more than a decade) to realise.Here’s the Air Force video:

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