The nimblest hover-spy
Most flying robots use rotors or propellers, limiting the craft’s ability to maneuver in tight places. The Nano Hummingbird navigates by changing the angle and shape of its paper-thin wings—which beat 20 to 40 times per second—and can hover in place for up to 11 minutes. It is also small enough to fly through windows or other small openings, strong enough to carry a microphone or camera, and stable enough to maintain a highly controlled hover, even in gusts of wind. Once the design, which is still in prototype, matures and goes into production, operators could use the Hummingbird on reconnaissance missions in environments where maneuverability inside buildings or around near-ground obstacles, such as huts or tents, is essential.