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Pentagon working on hummingbird-sized spy drones

A new Pentagon project aims to produce unmanned nano aerial vehicles that can be launched by soldiers in crowded urban areas to spy on enemy positions.

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A new Defense Department initiative seeks to develop a hummingbird-sized aerial vehicle packed with sensors to spy on enemy positions in urban areas.

Newscom/File

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Soldiers fighting future battles in crowded urban areas will be able to launch hummingbird-sized unmanned nano aerial vehicles — or NAVs – capable of carrying sophisticated sensors and flying through open windows in buildings to report back on enemy positions.

A new project partly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) called the Nano Aerial Vehicle (NAV) program aims to develop an extremely small, ultra-lightweight aerial vehicle for urban military missions that can fly both indoors and outdoors and that is capable of climbing and descending vertically as well as flying sideways left and right.

DARPA says the NAV program pushes the limits of aerodynamic and power conversion efficiency, endurance and maneuverability for very small air vehicle systems.

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The design the agency green lighted for further development actually will look and fly much like a hummingbird. The winning concept, developed by AeroVironment, is called Nano Scout (Nano Sensor Covert Observer in Urban Terrain). It is a remote-controlled, battery powered NAV with two flapping wings that weighs about two grams (about as heavy as two nickels) and is just slightly longer than three inches.

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