A tiny robotic hummingbird may soon join its much larger drone cousins patrolling modern-day battlefields for the U.S. military. Its small size and unique hovering ability means that it can also perform indoor as well as outdoor military missions in the tight quarters of city environments.
Such a creation points to a trend toward flocks of smaller drones, as listed by the U.S. Air Force on its wish list. Having many tiny drones such as the Nano Hummingbird also calls for new nature-inspired capabilities such as insect vision and reflexes to avoid midair collisions. Part of that smaller drone future may very well include more flying robots based on birds, if engineers have mastered the tricky flight mechanics of the hummingbird.