Tiny Dragonfly UAV Flies and Hovers to Spy

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You'd probably recognize a quadrocopter or a swarmbot swooping in for a closer view, but a tiny dragonfly might escape your notice. A Georgia Tech spinoff is betting their unmanned aerial dragonfly vehicle will leave other micro flying bots in the dust.

The Atlanta-based company TechJet started as a spinoff from developments in Georgia Tech's Robotics and Intelligent Machines Department. One of their projects, called Dragonfly, was initially developed with $1 million in funding from the U.S. Air Force's Office of Scientific Research. Since then, the Dragonfly prototypes have become smaller and there are now five technology patents on the design.

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TechJet, led by cofounders Jayant Ratti and Emanuel Jones, pictures different Dragonfly versions being used for gaming, dynamic photography, home security and military surveillance. Inspired by the way real dragonflies can fly and hover, they developed a four-winged robot weighing less than one ounce that can do the same.

Each Dragonfly has stereoscopic vision, flight control systems and a camera-ready operating system, according to the company. TechJet will be offering different options for robotics elements such as wings and actuators through its website, depending on what the user wants to do. For example, one version could be made more stable with better endurance for aerial photography.

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TechJet is currently raising money through the site Indiegogo with the goal of delivering the robots starting early next year. Dragonfly packages range from around $100 to $500 and include Wi-Fi and cameras at the high end.

So if you see a strange-looking insect flying your way, just be careful before you swat at it. That dragonfly could be a spy.

Image: A prototype for TechJet's robot dragonfly in action. Credit: TechJet.

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