Well it seems the boys at DARPA are releasing information on unbelievable projects on an almost weekly basis lately. From invisibility cloaks and self healing soldiers to other breakthroughs in areas like drug treatment, and now things are getting even more wild with UAV’s that are the size and shape of a cigarette. DARPA and the Oklahoma State University are working to make the vision of swarms of tiny vehicles flying into hostile areas a possibility.
The technology rely’s on some cutting edge research into propulsion technology that will power the little devices without any moving parts by utilizing a plasma thruster. The diagram is located below as well as what the devices engine looks like. The basic’s of the design will remain the same amongst the different sized micro-scaled aircraft that are planned in the future.
The energy created by the new Plasma Micro Thruster is enough to thrust a micro and nano unmanned UAV of the 6 to 12 inch length style. What’s being looked at since the new design not only allows for smaller engines, but also cheaper engines is that a soldier would be able to carry a pack of 6 micro UAV’s with them, which would then be thrown up in the air to carry out intelligence gathering missions.
The design has been fooled with in the DIY field a while back but only really in the “lifter” variety that used to be tied to a high voltage source to lift a very light craft using just electricity. Knowing the funds and research that DARPA does I can pretty much say that theirs no doubting they could turn such a design into what you see above and power the micro vehicles. My only question is when will they start hitting the sky because DARPA hasn’t said yet, then again do we really expect them to tell us when they start having microscopic flying spies?