Friday, February 18, 2011

Hummingbird with video camera

A new surveillance device may be arriving at your bird feeder soon. Yesterday, AeroVironment (Monrovia, CA), announced that it had got its Nano Hummingbird to precisely hover and fly forward, fast. Weighing two thirds of an ounce, including batteries and video cameras, the prototype was built as part of the DARPA Nano Air Vehicle program.

The final concept demonstrator is capable of climbing and descending vertically, flying sideways left and right, flying forward and backward, as well as rotating clockwise and counter-clockwise, under remote control. During the demonstration the Nano Hummingbird flew in and out of a building through a normal-size doorway.

The hand-made prototype aircraft has a wingspan of 16 cm (6.5 inches) and can fitted with a removable body fairing, which is shaped to have the appearance of a hummingbird. The company, which makes a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles used by the military, says the Nano is larger and heavier than an average hummingbird, but is smaller and lighter than the largest hummingbird currently found in nature.

Vision Systems Design is publishing a market report on vision for such UAVs and other service robots. For more information, click here.