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Tiny Surveillance Aircraft Fly in Tucson 106

An anonymous reader writes "Science Daily reports that thirteen teams from the United States, Korea and Germany will be in Tucson April 9-11 to compete for $6,000 in prize money during the 8th International Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) Competition. MAVs are tiny, radio-controlled airplanes that carry video cameras."
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Tiny Surveillance Aircraft Fly in Tucson

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  • Come to think of it, it's pretty sad I thought of it that quickly...
  • proposed uses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by trmj ( 579410 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @08:17AM (#8824047) Journal
    According to the article, the research is not trivial because research "already has resulted in two master's theses [...] and future graduate research probably will focus on propeller design and ultralight control mechanisms."

    Do we really need control systems this light? They have set a "wind date" for this competition for fear of a gust of wind destroying the MAVs; how will we make something reliable out of this?
    • what does "reliable" mean?

      Its the weather thats not reliable.
      And the intelligence
      And the double agents
      And the cowards
      And the enemy
      And the allies

      Perhaps "useful" is what is needed.

    • Re:proposed uses (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DoraLives ( 622001 )
      how will we make something reliable out of this?

      Think: Fly on the wall.

      Before this is over, everybody is going to know everything about everybody, at which point nobody is going to give a shit about anybody. Crooks excepted, of course. Should prove interesting.

    • Warp engine (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NoSuchGuy ( 308510 )
      how will we make something reliable out of this?

      Research is done in small steps, or did you hear the anouncement of a Warp engine in the next decade? Right now we are at "mega ultra sonic speed" for under 60 seconds. Next time it will be 5 minutes...
      • did you hear the anouncement of a Warp engine in the next decade?

        What?! When did that happen? I'm still waiting for my damn flying car that I was promised!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2004 @08:18AM (#8824052)
    MAV- micro air vehicle Its just the people who want to use them that dictates they have cameras, all the early ones were purely micro air vehicles, nothing more, just people proving they could make stuff that small that flew under remote control. Why doesnt it surprise me that someone not only found a questionable use for them, but managed to subvert the entire acronym?
    • by Feanturi ( 99866 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @09:47AM (#8824317)
      Why doesnt it surprise me that someone not only found a questionable use for them...

      It's that "Good/Evil is in the user, not the tool" thing though. I would love to be able to fly a tiny little thing and wear goggles that let me see where "I'm" going. Sure, one could spy; or one could just have a grand ol' geeky time exploring hard to reach caves or condemned buildings or even network plenums.. Seems like having a camera on it is just a sensible way to control the thing. If the first ones didn't have that, well yeah, the tech was early still.

      I, for one, welcome our acronym-subverting overlords.
  • Can I buy one of them for an affordable price without having to re-solve all the problems mentioned in the article?
    What video-goggles are recommended?
    • Can I buy one of them for an affordable price without having to re-solve all the problems mentioned in the article?

      That way you'll miss out on quite a large part of the fun. Building such a thing is more than half the fun of it. I like to build small mobile robots and usualy it takes several weeks to make it "do" something, but the cool-it-work-moment usually only last an hour or so (depending on the complexity of the "do"). Most of the fun is the actual building and designing the thing.
      Building the bett

  • Wouldn't it suck... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by $1uck ( 710826 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @08:28AM (#8824079)
    If your very expensive micro/nano surveilance device was defeated by chick-a-dees? (or any other small avian). Really what would keep songbirds from trying to eat these? or raptors from taking down the bigger ones by mistake?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2004 @08:31AM (#8824087)
    Now if only it was a Micro Upskirt Video Vehicle contest, the Japanese team would win for sure!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2004 @09:01AM (#8824173)
    When is the contest for Anti-MAV? Tiny rockets that shoot down MAVs.
  • MicroWarfare (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2004 @09:14AM (#8824202)
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/robotics/2 001/1/MicroWarfare/print.phtml

    more on microjet at
  • These little MAV video cameras can fly ANYWHERE!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wait a minute, in Don Brown's Deception Point, they had classified MAV's flying around the Arctic Winds. Heck, one was even used to poke an eye out and then flew back to finish its surveillance job (once again in the whipping wind). Oh Damn, I guess that is why it is called fiction.
  • Its great but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @10:00AM (#8824369)
    As a geek, i love it. Its a great challenge, a new thing... push on.

    As a citizen of this world and then of America, one can only make one observation about our world...

    There never were civil rights. Its a myth because those who followed, never really beleived it applied to anyone other than themselves. Freedom is a radical experience where those with the most capital get as they please while others get monitored through mini airplanes :)

    So get to work guys! Stop being so moral and ethical. Get rich and you too can have your civil rights... and imunity from the law.

    Frankly i'm far more impressed with that recent soccer autonomous robot. As a big fan of robotics and the robotic soccer games.... I was just impressed to see what a civilization in love with technology and progress where intrigue and curiousity for the good of man kind dominates, build such a unique thing.

    Sony and Honda have also done similar things. Its amazing how Japan has created so many wonderful things and how its embraced by their culture compaired to ours. We seem so quick to build new missles, spy planes etc...

    Lets get started on a nice friendly game of autonomous soccer. We have our competitors in this country but... its a shame such a great and wonderfull acomplishment goes so unnoticed by our civilization.

    Perhaps we just dont appreciate science and technology for the sake of creation enough. Perhaps we diserve to destroy our own culture and economy.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Perhaps you are a moron.
  • by MBAFK ( 769131 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @10:03AM (#8824378)
    Vision-Guided Flight for MAVs [ufl.edu]

    Looks like these little blighters can be tricky to fly, they are using a computer to track the horizon to help keep them level.
  • by spoonist ( 32012 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @10:03AM (#8824379) Journal
    ... their small size makes them difficult to bring down if they are detected.

    Yeah, right. If I can take down clay pigeons with one of these [world.guns.ru], then I can take down a MAV.

  • Motorized moths with little cameras are spying on me! I see them wherever I go. I thing the government sent them!
  • The use of different departments using the same name for something that is different.

    The MAV is a medium armored vehicle program
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/sy stems/gro und/mav.htm

  • These are interesting. Flapping wings n such. Would it be possible to use insects in the design?

    For instance could you take an exoskeleton from maybe a grasshoper, and add microparts so it's remote controlled?
    • Re:Ornithopters (Score:4, Interesting)

      by RoyalCheese ( 738721 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @11:23AM (#8824683) Journal
      I always thought it would be beter just to shrink the camera, and transmitter/receiver so they are small enough to be carried by an insect (maybe a wasp or a locust) and let the insect carry the equipment around. Then the operator could provide sensory stimulus to the insect by radio feedback, and direct it (forward, backward, left, right, up down). Then there is no power supply to worry about (power drawn from the insect's own potentials or maybe peizo electric from the wing flapping) and the insect can refuel itself by visiting flowers/ jam sandwiches or enemy picnics.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @11:41AM (#8824742) Homepage
    Raymond Z. Gallun's story, "The Scarab," was published in Astounding in 1936 (and anthologized by Groff Conklin in Science Fiction Thinking Machines in 1954).

    The story is set in the year 1987 and describes "a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length. The fancy of the craftsman who made it had given to the Scarab the form of the beetle of which it wa snamed. But its body had a metallic sheen, and its vitals were far more intricate than those of the finest watch."

    It is capable of observing with its "quartz-lensed eyes" and sounds are "detectable to [its] sensitive, microphonic ears." It can fly at "terrific speed" to "the cold, unresistant texture of the stratosphere." It makes its way into meeting room where a dastardly plot is in progress. It is never made clear it relays information back to "the mind that controlled the Scarab," but when that mind "had seen and heard enough" it instructs the Scarab to land on the bad guy's neck and "a tiny part of a drop of liquid was injected into its victim's blood stream."

    The good guys win.
  • Air rights (Score:4, Funny)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:19PM (#8824928) Homepage Journal
    They'd better beware the high-powered lasers I test in my backyard, in my personal SETI program. I might have to sandbag the grounds with my local Quarterton Nudist meetings.

  • Look, I see a world of better ideas about what good these things can do. Stop looking at all of the negatives.

    First of all, it would help explore the tops of large building areas if need be, or could be used to cover larger high areas for search and rescue. What if a person was trapped on a cliff on a deep woods rescue? You could definitely use one to spot a way down to get them. What about just to check power lines for damage? Or to look at endangered bird nests in an inobtrusive way?

    • Things like that would never happen with truely small scale aircraft simply because the government would not allow that technology to be used in the public arena.

      Just like GPS has its limits compared to actual military GPS.

      I simply do not see such military being sold openly for anyone, including our enemies to buy.

      Thats just not how our government operates. Military technology companies have restraints on who, what, and when they can sell their stuff to other countries.

      We have plenty of rc helicopter s
  • Crap I live in Tucson well better stay inside those days ;)
  • Yeah but, can they automatically recharge by finding and eating sh*t?
  • Let's see who can make the biggest surveillance aircraft! I haven't seen that before. READY... SET... GO! Start building!
  • I saw a great comic book story awhile ago where american teenagers (sometime in the future) were joining up with their concerned friends from all over the world to remotely fly these micro vehicles to some sort of international hotspot courtesy of the UN.

    The teens were controlling the little flyers with thier home computers and were searching for some sort of evidence of WMDs or such.

    Perhaps a thousand of these little flyers with video cameras could have helped avoid an Iraq invasion by showing the w

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