DARPA’s Hummingbird Spybot

Nope, this isn’t some extravagant fishing lure, it’s the US Government’s newest way to spy on its people enemies. The hummingbird bot has no problems flying like an actual hummingbird while recording video. It was developed by a company called Aerovironment as part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract. Of course details are scarce, but you can see the device flying around while broadcasting its video feed after the break. Sure, it’s making much more noise than you would expect from an actual hummingbird, but this is just the version that they’re shown off publicly, right?

It has certainly come a long way since the company was awarded the contract few years back. We assume that the hummingbird is the realization of research efforts pumped into their ornithopter project. Those proofs of concept from 2009 on what was called Project Mercury showed off a winged flyer in a controlled environment. To see this year’s model flying out in the open is pretty neat.


[Thanks DMO]

21 thoughts on “DARPA’s Hummingbird Spybot

  1. Bad news for real hummingbirds, i.e. if you suspect that there’s a robotic hummingbird spying on you, but you can’t pick the robots from the real ones, the solution is obvious – use a shotgun on every hummingbird you see. Now if DARPA/Aerovironment would model these robots on a pest species, everybody (except the pests) would benefit. Save the hummingbirds!!

  2. @Bill D. Williams What have you heard bad about AV? They’ve been around since the 70’s. Built the solar car that won a race across Australia with GM in the 80’s. Builds the plugin chargers for the Nissan Leaf. Builds rucksack portable surveillance SUAVs (Raven, Wasp, etc.) to keep soldiers safe. Built the first human powered airplane to cross the English Chanel. They have several items in the Smithsonian. I’m not seeing anything bad there.

  3. This has to be the stupidest shit I’ve ever seen, I would have to be a retarded terrorist to not see that humongous piece of shit flying is not a real humming bird, even from afar. Look at it! its huge!

  4. Has anyone heard of a device similar to this, but not intended for spying, rather for filming? Instead, you give it a high quality camera and wirelessly transmit the video to a large capacity drive.

    It would need to be able to hover with very little movement in any direction to ensure steady shots. A director would be able to get so many unique shots that may require renting expensive equipment.

  5. Um yeah. The hummingbird has one of the most wasteful of the avian flight dynamics. Aside from that, it looks like little more than a modified version of my Target Dragonfly thingy. I have really got to get me some of this DARPA money. My banger at the table is a miniature global hawk that is the size of a Pilot ink pen and uses a high altitude deployable kite and a pulse thruster (ala V2 buzz bomb). Can be launched by rubber band or water rocket and so far it stays aloft for 45 mins. No cargo at the moment as I am just a dude, but pretty neat project so far…

  6. Looks like they need to adjust it’s field of view as well as loudness.

    Also, is it just me or does it appear to not be able to hover in one spot very well? It seems like a hummingbird just circling you is pretty suspicious, but if he stops to eat fruit near by (like a real one) then that’s better.

    Why does it only have one camera? it should be able to see out all of it’s sides at once (it’s a robot!) and laser aimed sound detection would be nice in case the people it wants to spy on are too far away from the fruit it’s “eating”.

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