Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Transformers Alert: Micro Drones are the Future of US Military Surveillance


This news feels like it came out from the most sophisticated of all Science Fictions. But don't be fooled, because reality is stranger than fiction, indeed. US military surveillance is not only investing on drones, but on micro drones at that. Or it could even be nano! This means we could be spied anytime now without our knowing it.

This is certainly the best news any robotics-obsessed folks could get. This is much better than Michael Bay's Transformers that also featured a micro bio-metallic creature that resembled an insect on one of movie's battle scenes. If the present progress of our technology is maintained, maybe it might not be long until we see the world Isaac Asimov conceptualized on one of his futuristic SciFi book.

Think again before saying these are just insects:

The University of Pennsylvania GRASP Lab has showcased a network of 20 nano-quad rotors capable of agile flight, which could swarm and navigate in an environment with obstacles, these are much like mimicking one part of our nature, the insects. These said rotors are product of the lab's effort to build an elusive and hard-to-detect surveillance machine, also known as drones.

This system hopes to achieve not to use remote controls anymore that are present in all current aerial vehicles and robots. Future drones may will operate with little or no direct human supervision. Sweet, right? Sounds like a great breakthrough on Artificail Intelligence to me. But as of the moment, the feature of the showcased drones, which could be boasted in the micro level, is the ability to land at an exact position and take off again in a virtually fast way. This is much different from the ones we have seen before -- with almost no maneourability, can't hover and move fast enough.

This newly designed drones are based on the mechanics of insects, not only in size and body parts but also with their movements and group patterns. This could be well used in tight spaces where the bulky counterparts could not infiltrate. This is also a by-product of researches that has been conducted to generate new insight into how insect wings have evolved over the last 350 million years.

As a proponent of the study, zoologist Richard Bomphrey said: "By learning those lessons, our findings will make it possible to aerodynamically engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that, because they are as small as insects and also fly like them, completely blend into their surroundings."

Watch this video released by the GRASP Laboratories, featuring a swarm of Nano Quadrons:

That was the best choreography I have seen ever! If we're talking about formations and order, you know what I mean?