Robot aircraft—UAVs—are going to be big news in the future of warfighting, as the reveal of the U.K.'s new one proves. But have you thought about tiny UAVs for spying? Check out this robot insect to see the future of surveillance.
It's called the DelFlyII from the Technical University of Delft, and it just got to show its amazing flying paces at the International Micro Air Vehicle Conference and Flight Competition 2010. The robot took just a year to design and build, and it had to meet a number of technical and design requirements in order to compete in the flight games—including fitting inside a sphere with a 30 centimeter radius.
Quite astonishingly, the 16 gram flapping robot (strictly, an ornithopter) can fly along at up to 15 meters per second, it can hover, and even fly backwards at up to half a meter a second. According to the team, this means it's the very first "ornithopter that has such a wide flight envelope without any adjustments" in the aircraft's aerodynamic configuration. And it can do all of this partly autonomously, navigating its way around and partly under remote control ... while delivering wireless video from an on-board webcam.