Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) are the smallest unmanned aircraft, with a wingspan of six inches or less. Power supply has always been one of the toughest challenges for this type of craft, as any kind of battery has a lifespan measured in minutes.But there are ways of dealing with the problem, and I examine a number of different approaches in this month's Defense technologyInternational.
Many of these approaches borrow directly from nature, and we can expect MAVs to behave increasingly like living things: perching in trees, basking in the sun and even consuming grass and leaves to top up their power supply.
That in itself was mildly disturbing, but then they had to go and post this:
One of the more dramatic proposals for micro-robots is the swarm of robot cockroaches which the Air Force is investigating as a means of attacking underground bunker complexes. One correspondent suggested that power supply would be the 'long pole in the tent' for the microrobots. In fact, in this situation power supply is ready to hand. All the robots need is an adapter plug and they can scavenge any electric outlet available, an option not available to machines operating in the great outdoors.
Alternatively, given the interest in gastrobots capable of digesting organic material, they might take their energy from the
most readily available food source in a command bunker: human flesh. I don't think anyone has suggested the idea - and I doubt if it would ever be implemented - but an invading swarm of steel-jawed man-eating robot cockroaches would probably clear most underground facilities faster than you can say "get me outta here".
Emphasis mine, of course. But try as I might, I can't emphasize enough that someone spoke it out loud. I've been looking at HTML tutorial sites for about a half hour now, and I cannot find any capability of HTML that adequately expresses my horror.