How to train your hummingbot

Sebastian Doggart|Telegraph

America still leads the world in two areas: doing weird things with its animals, like putting squirrels and dogs on water-skis, and creating awesome weapons, like the Stealth fighter jet. Now it’s found an ingenious way of combining these two skills, by using the animal kingdom to manufacture new military toys.

Yes, the critters that you can see at the zoo, you’ll now be able to see replicated on the battlefield. It’s all been inspired by the Pentagon. In the early 2000s, led by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, it invited the magicians of American war-craft to come up with munitions that mimic biological designs.

The most recent fruit of this project is the ‘Nano-Hummingbird’. It’s a remote-controlled robotic bird, that has a wing-span of 6.5 inches and weighs less than a AA battery. It’s propelled by the flapping of its two wings and can reach a top speed of 11 mph. It has excellent mobility comparable to a real hummingbird: it can hover, remain still in high winds, climb and descend vertically, fly sideways, forward and backward, and rotate clockwise and counterclockwise. It can also alight on tree-branches, power lines or a window sill. Inside its tummy is a minuscule, front-facing video camera with live streaming capability in colour. Powered by a battery, it can currently fly for only eight minutes.

The main mission of this ‘hummingbot’ is reconnaissance and espionage – hence its selling point as “the world’s first hummingbird spy-plane.” In urban combat situations, it can search suspicious buildings. If you’re a “Person of Interest”, it can fly through your open window and film everything you’re doing.

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