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Tinker Bell Or Predator UAV?

August 10, 2010

Something Wicked This Way Cometh

As a part of our ROV/UAV coverage we occasionally look at the crossover benefits/risks of development of autonomous intelligent machines that can track and kill humans. Here’s a case where technology developed for serious military applications can be also be used to amuse visitors at Disneyland.

“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!” Peter Pan

MIT Creates a Plane that Lands Like a Bird

A smoke visualization still of the actual vortex wake behind the MIT glider during a free-flight high-angle-of-attack landing. [Image courtesy: Jason Dorfman (MIT/CSAIL)

Innovative control system allows glider to touch down on a perch or wire

By Larry Hardesty, MIT. See full Designfax article…

“MIT researchers have demonstrated a new control system that allows a foam glider with only a single motor on its tail to land on a perch, just like a pet parakeet. The work could have important implications for the design of robotic planes, greatly improving their maneuverability and potentially allowing them to recharge their batteries simply by alighting on power lines.”

To develop their perching glider, MIT Associate Professor Russ Tedrake, a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and Rick Cory, a PhD student in Tedrake’s lab who defended his dissertation this spring, took a two-pronged approach. The first step was to develop their own mathematical model of a glider in stall, which allows them to calculate an initial flight plan before the glider is launched.” More below with video…

Killer Things Come in Small Packages

Tinker Bell was jealous and could be dangerous. She tried to have Wendy killed by The Lost Boys.

Twilight Zone: Dreams or Nightmares?

You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting. – Tinker Bell

See other tiny spies in the sky and how Tink ties in…

Pentagon’s Robo-Hummingbird Flies Like the Real Thing

AeroVironment, for its part, doesn’t just want its little drone to fly like a bird. The company wants the thing to look like one, too:

By Noah Shachtman, July 2, 2009, excerpts from

Military-backed researchers have built a tiny drone that looks and flies like a hummingbird, flapping its little robotic wings to stay in the air. So far, the mock bird, built for Pentagon mad-science division Darpa, has only stayed aloft for 20 seconds at a time. But that short flight was enough to show the potential of a whole new class of miniature spies, inspired by nature. Darpa just handed AeroVironment, makers of the winged “nano air vehicle,” another $2.1 million to build a hummingbot 2.0.

Ultimately, Darpa program manager Todd Hylton says in a statement, he’d like see “an approximately 10-gram aircraft that can hover for extended periods, can fly at forward speeds up to 10 meters per second, can withstand 2.5-meter-per-second wind gusts.” He also wants the nano air vehicle to operate inside buildings, and be controllable from up to a kilometer away.

AeroVironment, for its part, doesn’t just want its little drone to fly like a bird. The company wants the thing to look like one, too:

Read More and see video at Danger Room…

Float Like a Butterfly Sting Like a Bee

A high-speed video of the researchers’ computer-controlled glider landing on a suspended string perch. [Video courtesy of Russ Tedrake and Rick Cory]

Continued from above Designfax article…

Tedrake’s lab, however, has already begun to address the problem of moving the glider’s location sensors onboard, and although Cory will be moving to California to take a job researching advanced robotics techniques for Disney, he hopes to continue collaborating with Tedrake. “I visited the Air Force, and I visited Disney, and they actually have a lot in common,” Cory says. “The Air Force wants an airplane that can land on a power line, and Disney wants a flying Tinker Bell that can land on a lantern. But the technology’s similar.” See full Designfax article…

We are entering a brave new world, a world that J.M. Barrie would not likely imagine, but H.G. Wells and Aldous Huxley could. A world where smart machines will be providing security for police and border uses as well as reconnaissance missions for military applications. These tiny sensor packed machines will fly, swim and crawl our world looking for the bad guys. Some will be armed, ready to kill our enemies on command.

The bad guys too will develop (or buy) their own intelligent ROVs/UAVs that will be watching us and seeking to do evil.

Let’s hope their micro UAVs don’t have Tink’s nasty disposition. Clap if you believe in fairies…

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