Will Ferguson and David Hambling
July 24, 2012
FAR from the aeroplane-sized craft that are the face of cutting-edge warfare, a much smaller revolution in drones is under way.
Micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs) with uncanny navigation and real-time mapping capabilities could soon be zipping through indoor and outdoor spaces, running reconnaissance missions that others cannot. They would allow soldiers to look over hills, inside buildings and inspect suspicious objects without risk.
Unlike their larger cousins, whose complex navigation systems let them fly autonomously for hours or even days (see “Aloft for longer than ever”), MAVs are not known for their smarts. They typically rely on a GPS signal to tell them where they are, and on human operators for nearly everything else, such as where to go, what to look for and where to land.