Scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory unveiled the ‘Cicada,’ world’s smallest intelligent spy glider drone.
A swarm of Cicada micro-drones being dumped from a C-130. Credit Naval Research Laboratory
The GPS-guided Cicada (Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft), designed to be smaller and cheaper than any other robotic aircraft, could be dropped from air to spy.
Cicada is a concept for a low-cost, GPS-guided, micro disposable air vehicle that can be deployed in large numbers to “seed” an area with miniature electronic payloads. These payloads could be interconnected to form an ad-hoc, self-configuring network. Communication nodes, sensors, or effectors can then be placed in a programmable geometric pattern in hostile territory without directly over-flying those regions or exposing human agents on the ground.
Essentially a flying circuit board, Cicada has an extremely high packing factor and a very low per-unit cost. Eighteen vehicles can be contained in a six-inch cube. The vehicle is inherently stable in glide, with a glide ratio of 3.5.