U.S. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin has unveiled their latest robot, based on maple seeds and single-winged helicopters, which could be very useful for the military to gather information from dangerous areas.
Researchers from the Intelligent Robotics Laboratories of Lockheed Martin, based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, spent the past five years developing an unmanned aircraft called the Samarai, which replicates the motion of a single-winged chopper. Based on a maple seed’s aerodynamics, Lockheed Martin’s Director of Advanced Technology Laboratories Scott Fouse said that the challenge for building and creating an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was to generate lift with a propeller and integrate the device’s controls.
The Samarai UAV is just about one foot long, only has two moving parts and has a camera attached to it. It can be controlled using a remote control or using an app on a tablet PC.
Troops or police officers could carry the device in their backpacks or police cars, launch them by throwing them as one would throw a boomerang and use the real-time images from the attached cameras to find what might be waiting for them. The Samarai can also be dropped from planes to collect ground-level photos rather than aerial images. Police officers can also use the device to take a look inside buildings.
Unlike most drones that are used by the military, the Samarai can hover in place and can take off vertically.
It is scheduled to be unveiled at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Conference in Washington D.C. this week.