AeroVironment Hummingbird Flapping-Wing Nano-UAV

Nano Hummingbird, drone, spy plane, Pentagon: Pentagon, AeroVironment to unveil Nano Hummingbird, an experimental mini-spy plane - latimes.com

A pocket-size drone dubbed the Nano Hummingbird for the way it flaps its tiny robotic wings has been developed for the Pentagon by a Monrovia company as a mini-spy plane capable of maneuvering on the battlefield and in urban areas.

The battery-powered drone was built by AeroVironment Inc. for the Pentagon's research arm as part of a series of experiments in nanotechnology. The little flying machine is built to look like a bird for potential use in spy missions.

AeroVironment, Inc.: News & Events: AeroVironment Develops World’s First Fully Operational Life-Size Hummingbird-Like Unmanned Aircraft for DARPA

AeroVironment, Inc. is a leader in Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Electric Vehicle Charging Systems, and Power Cycling & Test Systems.

• Two-wing, Flapping Aircraft Hovers and Flies in Any Direction
• Total Weight of Two-thirds of an Ounce Includes Batteries and Video Camera

WASHINGTON, at AAAS Conference, Feb. 17, 2011 – AeroVironment, Inc. (AV)(NASDAQ: AVAV) today announced it has accomplished a technical milestone never before achieved -- controlled precision hovering and fast-forward flight of a two-wing, flapping wing aircraft that carries its own energy source, and uses only the flapping wings for propulsion and control.

AV is developing the Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) under a DARPA sponsored research contract to develop a new class of air vehicle systems capable of indoor and outdoor operation. Employing biological mimicry at an extremely small scale, this unconventional aircraft could someday provide new reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities in urban environments.

The hand-made final concept demonstrator Nano Hummingbird has a wingspan of 16 cm (6.5 in) and weighs just 19 g (2/3 oz), which is less than the weight of a AA battery. Into this tiny and lightweight package the AeroVironment UAS team has managed to cram all the systems required for flight, including batteries, motors, communications systems and even a video camera.

The aircraft can climb and descend vertically, fly sideways left and right, fly forward and backward, as well as rotating clockwise and counter-clockwise – all under remote control and while carrying a video camera payload. It is even capable of doing a 360-degree loop.

The Nano Hummingbird met all, and exceeded many, of the Phase II technical milestones set out by DARPA:

  • Demonstrate precision hover flight.
  • Demonstrate hover stability in a wind gust flight which required the aircraft to hover and tolerate a two-meter per second (five miles per hour) wind gust from the side, without drifting downwind more than one meter.
  • Demonstrate a continuous hover endurance of eight minutes with no external power source.
  • Fly and demonstrate controlled, transition flight from hover to 11 miles per hour fast forward flight and back to hover flight.
  • Demonstrate flying from outdoors to indoors, and back outdoors through a normal-size doorway.
  • Demonstrate flying indoors 'heads-down' where the pilot operates the aircraft only looking at the live video image stream from the aircraft, without looking at or hearing the aircraft directly.
  • Fly the aircraft in hover and fast forward flight with bird-shaped body and bird-shaped wings.