Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's the army's latest $4million spy drone disguised as a hummingbird, measuring just 16 centimetres
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:08 PM on 17th February 2011
A pocket-sized spy drone disguised as a hummingbird has been unveiled by a major Pentagon contractor measuring just 16 centimetres and weighing less than an AA battery.
The mini spy plane can fly up to 11 miles an hour and took five years to develop at a cost of $4million.
Army chiefs hope to use the drone’s tiny camera to spy on enemy positions in war zones without arousing detection and eventually deploy it into both rural and urban environments.
Unsuspecting: The tiny hummingbird spy drone has a wingspan of just 16 centimetres and propels itself like a real bird - just by flapping its little wings
Experts hope the drone, which can fly just by flapping its wings, compared with current models which rely on propellers, will eventually be able to swoop through open windows and perch on power lines.
The demonstration by AeroVironment – one of the world’s biggest drone suppliers – lasted eight minutes and saw the new creation fly through a door into an building and out again, and withstand winds of five miles per hour.
Todd Hylton, Hummingbird programme manager for the Pentagon’s research arm said it ‘paves the way for a new generation of aircraft with the agility and appearance of small birds.’
Test: The $4million project has taken five years. The latest demonstration saw the drone fly into and out of a building at 11mph, and withstand 5mph winds for the eight minute flight
Matt Keennon, AeroVironment’s manager on the project, said the milestone of building a machine inspired by nature pushes the limits of aerodynamics.
He added: ‘This is a new form of man-made flight’.