Aviation researchers at the University of Florida have copied the wing action of seagulls to develop spy drones that can morph shape mid-flight.This is just a taste of a long and interesting story. One interesting tidbit. Battery technology developed for cell phones is making the development of the craft more likely.
The toy-sized drones are being developed for tricky urban missions so that they can zip around tight places.
They could fly into urban environments to detect biological agents.
By watching how seagulls alter their wing shape, and using morphing techniques, the agile craft can squeeze through confined spaces, such as alleyways, and change direction rapidly.
The micro air vehicles (MAVs) could automatically find their way to monitor locations, such as apartment blocks, where suspicious activity is detected.
Eventually, the craft will be tiny, allowing them to work in swarms, thus making them even more inconspicuous, the team believes.
"Colleagues have built vehicles as small as four inches across. They are difficult to spot visually. From an audio viewpoint, they are very quiet," said Dr Lind.
Working in swarms, each craft would communicate with each other. A likely scenario would involve a "mother ship" stationed high above a city, he explained.
"It could maybe fly 20 smaller vehicles inside the city. Each small one sends information up to the ship, which can then make decisions about the job and redirect the vehicles to other areas," he said.