Every once in a while, we dig into a story where I truly don’t know the outcome.
I’m not sure if this is true, false, or a mix of both — but I do know it’s worth investigating.
I’m going to start with a video but then end with some research, so if you’re skeptical on the video keep reading down to the research and you might not be so sure anymore.
I recently saw this video going viral online:
Polymer drone flies, used by the U.S. military pic.twitter.com/dzNlDL9qQ9
— Mad Mac (@Rev20_4) June 9, 2022
Watch the video for yourself and try to determine if this is a real insect or something “created” by Skunkworks…
Opinion was split about 50/50 online, with many saying it was just an abnormally large horse fly with no hair:
That is just a tachinid fly with no hair on the abdomen. Military microdrones made to look like insects — which I was introduced to on October 31st, 2013 — are not real insects, do not look like real insects, and look nothing like that. That is a real fly.
— Michael Loris (@MichaelLoris5) June 9, 2022
And others saying it looked positively mechanical:
That is the biggest horse fly I’ve ever seen 👀
— ❤️🌟💙Aneres9193 💙🌟❤️ (@aneres9193) June 9, 2022
Horse fly or created bug?
But now let’s advance the story…
Think this is “too wild” to be true?
It’s actually been in the works for at least 50 years, and that’s just what they tell you publicly:
50 years in the makinghttps://t.co/ZJkDjJgPhs
— JVasquez (@Jvasquez402) June 10, 2022
The DroneDJ reporter also reports this technology has been alive and well for decades, heavily researched and developed by the elite Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL):
The US military has ordered the development of tiny microdrones, whose shape and flapping wing movements will replicate insect flight. The super-small craft will provide incredible stealth in information gathering, and surveillance missions intended to really bug enemies.
“I’m no drone – just a snooping bug”
The elite Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has partnered with innovative prototype specialist Arion Health LLC to create a model for insect-sized microdrones. Working from a 2014 patent, the effort seeks to produce tiny craft capable of changing wingbeats to maintain or modify velocity as bugs and birds do. Initial designs involve a remote-controlled operational system, interacting with a variety of speed and condition profiles moderating wing movement stored on the drone.
According to a press statement announcing the partnership, the project will create:
(A) biomimetic micro-robotic aircraft to perform insect-like maneuvers with two physical actuators, while utilizing minimal computer processing power. Controllable forces would be generated by the wings based on position and velocity profiles, resulting in time-varying wing upstrokes and downstrokes, which, at times, may be asymmetrical.
Known as micro air vehicles (MAV), the bug-drone will be used for, among other things, “in-the-open surveillance, aerial swarm operations, and battlefield situational awareness.” One critical application will be to approach and spy on enemy forces or craft before those can reach battlefield conflicts.
Microdrones mastering six degrees of flight
In doing that work, MAV will be capable of six degrees of flight – up, down, forward and back, left or right – which may be determined by the remote pilots based on mission plans or challenges those encounter.
The agreement between the AFRL and Arion calls for the latter to deliver a functional prototype sometime in 2022. (An actual, operational drone will have to be developed and perfected from there.) It also grants AFRL licensing rights to Arion, which will oversee eventual marketing and revenue management of final craft.
“We were excited to license our technology to a small business that was building strategic relationships in the drone industry,” says Joshua Laravie, technology transfer specialist and domestic alliance program manager for AFRL’s Aerospace Systems Directorate. “[We] are looking forward to supporting their efforts to commercialize an AF technology.”
This might be the best reply of all though:
— BeautifulMessyBall (@YodaKnows3) June 9, 2022
Ah, the Pence fly.
Just like the Obama fly.
Flies flock to two things: shit and death.
In other words, if the flies are buzzing around your head and landing on your dome, you just might be full of sh*t.
Another episode? We already have almost every season in real life! 😐 pic.twitter.com/oB3HZimadT
— Marcia Pinho (@MovidaAvinho) June 10, 2022