The Nano Hummingbird is a science fiction dystopian feature come to our time. This bird sized robot can carry a camera and broadcast to a remote location. This month’s Discover Magazine explains how scientists working for the US Defense Advance Research Projects Agency(DARPA) have invented a fake hummingbird, flapping wings and hard to distinguish from a real bird.
This little birdie is not new, having been revealed to the public in 2011. It lends a whole new meaning to the old expression “A little bird told me”. These little snoops can zip around windows and yards, keeping a close eye on foreigners and locals alike.
TIME Magazine declared the Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) one of the best inventions of 2011.
“The device is bigger and heavier than a typical real hummingbird, but is smaller and lighter than the largest hummingbird varieties. It could be deployed to perform reconnaissance and surveillance in urban environments or on battlefields, and might perch on windowsills or power lines, or enter buildings to observe its surroundings, relaying camera views back to its operator. According to DARPA, the Nano Air Vehicle's configuration will "provide the warfighter with unprecedented capability for urban mission operations." Wikipedia
Currently there are few restrictions on government agencies from defense departments to local police forces on how and when they may use drones and robots for surveillance and information gathering. The technology has moved forward very rapidly and leaves regulators scrambling to agree on rules for use. Republican David Taylor from Washington State is spearheading a bipartisan bill that would hammer out rules for public agencies and private users.
Police departments in various jurisdictions are already expressing enthusiasm for the little snoops. Seattle police had the kybosh put on their hopes for NAVs by the city mayor Mike McGinn.
So if you see a bluebird on your windowsill like in the old song, close your blinds.