Air Force plans to pull out big (uh, little) guns
Aamer Madhani - September 14, 2008
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — It may look like a futuristic arcade game, but it’s a scene from an official Air Force animated video: Bad guys of indiscernible origin being shadowed, from a careful distance, by small robotic drones designed to resemble birds and insects.
When one of the bad guys opens his apartment door, a tiny robo-bug, looking like a garage door opener with wings, sneaks in to spy. In another scene, a bug—the Air Force calls them Micro Air Vehicles, or MAVs—creeps into a sniper’s roost and delivers a deadly shot to the back of his head.
It might sound far-fetched. But top Air Force officials believe that MAVs could be a significant part of the Defense Department’s arsenal in the not-so-distant future.
Civilian researchers and airmen at the Air Force Research Laboratory, based at this installation just outside Dayton, have set a 2015 deadline to roll out the first generation of MAVs. This first group, they hope, will be the size of birds and able to operate several days without recharging.