back to article DARPA hands out cash for tiny bugbot-thopter

Famed solar-plane company Aerovironment announced today that it has won further US military funding to carry on its Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) programme, which will develop a tiny "three-inch flapping-wing air vehicle system". The money comes, of course, from DARPA - the Pentagon bureau which aims to get the bleeding edge to the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Insert Comment

    The will spend millions of dollars devloping a high tech system, only to be defeated by that must amazing of counter defences, a rolled up newspaper.

  2. Anton Ivanov


    More waste of money yet again. Sigh...

    It has been known for a long time amidst the people keen on bionics that imitating birds is a waste of time. A bird's (and to lesser extent bat's) wing is a very complex structure and the bird can vary its geometry, pitch, etc at will over a very wide range of values.

    Any hope we have to achieve controlled flapping flight lays in imitating insects. They use fixed semi-rigid wing structures which we can imitate. They do not change their geometry either. It is all controlled by the way the wing is moved so it is much easier to imitate. And most importantly - they can hover and even fly backwards.

    Me coat... The one with the big dragonfly print on the back...

  3. Ian Ferguson
    Black Helicopters

    But but but

    does it come in penis shape, for missions involving Russian insertion?

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    Bug screen

    Sales of bug screens are going to rocket if this technology takes off(no apology for the pun) as the potential uses for such a device in the hands of our collective senior siblings is positively scary. We are all in danger of being surveiled by every government body (and others) from the CSA to the police and Inland Revenue.Invest now in companies that make fly screens for your windows and doors, especially if they can connect them up to a power source to zap them like the things in food shops.Instead of bug spray perhaps a can of hair spry or contact adhesive might gum up the works. Being ex military I can see the benefits for the battlefield and in anti-terrorism but having spent more time as an abused citizen I think that most of the uses will be a bit more mundane.

  5. ben edwards

    This has already been done.

    I refer everyone to the bug shown in the first Lexx movie. Kind of a tenacious little bug, but overall not very reliable.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Check out the Reynolds number on that baby!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    They'd be better off with a spider-spy bug....

    Everyone legs it and leaves the bug to steal confidential info..... or someone with a large boot squashes it.

  8. Chris Cheale

    Spend for spend's sake

    I heard rumour (totally unverified but it amused me) of the US military pumping millions of dollars into a tripwire detection system using all the latest gadgetry; it was very expensive but not very reliable.

    The British Army (low on cash but high on innovation) had a simpler solution to the problem - party poppers. Oki, not very stealthy but very cheap and reliable as the little paper streamers would land on the tripwires but be too light to trigger them. Brilliant.

    As I said, totally unverified but it's a nice story :)

  9. Tom Chiverton

    @Anton Ivanov

    Some birds can fly backwards and/or hover - humming birds are the obvious ones.

    As to being 'a waste of time' - have some imagination about what you could do with (say) smart nano material and a multi-domain constantly variable wing is fairly easy...

  10. Dave
    Paris Hilton

    how low can you go?

    When the man from DARPA dazzled by the glint in the eye of the boffins prattles on about exploiting low Reynolds number motion, how low is he thinking? Paris Hilton swimming (purity of water not stated) exhibits Re of approx 4 x 10^6, whereas a spermatozoon (location of swimming not specified) notches up approx 1x10^-2

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tom Chiverton

    "have some imagination"

    Agree. Get so tired of the chorus of 'won't work' and 'waste of money' everytime there is a mention of some even slightly unusual idea. Sometimes get the feeling that the Reg is piped into some home for cranky and nearly dead old guys.

  12. Jon Tocker

    How small are these supposed to be?

    It occurs to me that even at the size of a house-fly, these things would look terribly suspicious if the artist's impression is anything to go by.

    One of those things buzzing around the room or perching on a wall is hardly going to blend in, is it?

    They should stick with remote controlled cyborg moths - they'd at least look the part while frantically circling the light bulb...

  13. Steve again

    @Spend for spend's sake

    And of course there is the old chestnut of NASA spending millions of dollars to develop a pen that would work in space.

    The Russians used pencils.

  14. Kenneth Chan
    Black Helicopters

    Canadian Humming Bird...

    Could this be an arm race for NAVs?


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