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Tiny Spy Drone Flies Like a Maple Seed

Samarai Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin's Samarai drone can launch from almost anywhere and take video surveillance images from the air. (Image credit: Lockheed Martin)

Today's U.S. military often relies on aircraft-size drones costing millions of dollars that operate from airfields or truck-mounted launchers. Tomorrow's soldiers could simply scatter a handful of tiny hovering drones resembling maple seeds to act as a surveillance swarm on the battlefield.

The small flying robot, called Samarai, comes from the labs of U.S. defense company Lockheed Martin. It has a single wing with a tiny propeller on the end that spins it around at 600 to 900 times per minute — allowing it to either take off from the ground like a helicopter,  from a handheld launcher, or by spinning up the rotor and then launching with a flick of the wrist.

Special image software gives drone operators a blur-free view from the onboard camera despite the drone's constant spinning. The operator can also point the camera anywhere in a 360-degree view around the drone.

Drones such as Samarai may eventually swarm across more than just battlefields — they could also find similar use for emergency rescue workers and law enforcement. [Drone Census Tracks US Government's Secret Swarms ]

This story was provided by InnovationNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Follow InnovationNewsDaily on Twitter @News_Innovation, or on Facebook.

Live Science Staff
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