Mini flying drones coming to a city near you

September 4, 2006

University research into things like ultra-miniturized spy planes has become a lucrative pursuit as US defense skunkworks like DARPA turn their attention toward street-level aerial surveillance.

The airflow characteristics at the low speed small planes fly at are very different to those at high speed and not very well understood, he adds. That is one reason his team is investigating novel designs.

It is difficult to quantify how manoeuvrable the new drones are. But during flight tests they have been capable of performing three continuous 360° rolls in 1 second. F-16 fighter jets can carry out one roll per second but have safeguards to prevent more than this in case the pilot passes out through g-force effects. But even without these safeguards Lind, a former NASA engineer, doubts F-16 could match his drones’ performance.

The drones are being developed for use in an urban landscape. (New Scientist)

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