AeroVironment/DARPA | Nano hummingbird reconnaissance UAV

February 19, 2011

Newly released Aerovironment demo footage of the final project phase of the Nano Hummingbird aerial reconaissance vehicle, developed for the DARPA Defense Sciences Office. The flight test video shows the “birds eye view” on screen as well as the bird and engineer. Bird flies outside and then goes inside the building. We see what it sees via flat panel screen. Battery-powered and remote-controlled, the hummingbird-like prototype uses flapping wings for propulsion and control. Carring a video camera and downlink, the prototype has a wingspan of 16cm (9.5in) and weighs just 19 grams (0.66oz). It can hover for 8 minutes, remaining stable in gusts up to 5mph, and reach up to 11mph in forward flight.

AeroVironment | AV is developing the Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) under a DARPA sponsored research contract to develop a new class of air vehicle systems capable of indoor and outdoor operation. Employing biological mimicry at an extremely small scale, this unconventional aircraft could someday provide new reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities in urban environments.

The Nano Hummingbird met all, and exceeded many, of the Phase II technical milestones set out by DARPA:

• Demonstrate precision hover flight.
• Demonstrate hover stability in a wind gust flight which required the aircraft to hover and tolerate a two-meter per second (five miles per hour) wind gust from the side, without drifting downwind more than one meter.
• Demonstrate a continuous hover endurance of eight minutes with no external power source.
• Fly & demonstrate controlled, transition flight from hover to 11 mph fast forward flight and back to hover flight.
• Demonstrate flying from outdoors to indoors, and back outdoors through a normal-size doorway.
• Demonstrate flying indoors ‘heads-down’ where the pilot operates the aircraft only looking at the live video image stream from the aircraft, without looking at or hearing the aircraft directly.
• Fly the aircraft in hover and fast forward flight with bird-shaped body and bird-shaped wings.

Hummingbird Nano Air Vehicle in hand (Image: AeroVironment, Inc.)

Video Source: AeroVironment, Inc.

AeroVironment, Inc. website | Hummingbird Nano page
AeroVironment, Inc. YouTube channel
DARPA Defense Sciences Office