CIA Once Considered Amazingly Realistic-Looking Dragonfly Drone

CIA Museum/Video screen capture

It's biomimicry that James Bond would approve of. In the 1970s, the CIA built a miniature flying robot drone that looked amazingly like a real dragonfly to carry out covert audio recording missions -- basically, it was a bug-carrying bug. But the so-called Insectothopter never got the chance to fly under the radar after test missions showed that it was easily compromised by gusts of wind and just plain difficult to control.

The details of this cool flying machine have just been declassified by the CIA and released by the CIA Museum. According to the museum, it used a "miniature fluidic oscillator" as a motor and ran on a tiny amount of gas. The drone was guided by a laser beam, which also served as the datalink for the audio bug.

These details and more are revealed in the video below.

After seeing how cool of a biomimetic machine the CIA built 40 years ago, one can only wonder what kind of devices the agency has come up with since. I guess we'll have to wait and see when that information is declassified decades from now, but as Gizmodo notes, we're only hearing about the Insectothopter because it was a failure. The ones that have been successes, well, they may buzz stealthily forever.

Tags: Biomimicry | Gadgets | Technology

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