Spy-Butterfly: Israel developing insect drone for indoor surveillance

Biomimicry is one of the smartest contemporary approaches to design, so it was inevitable that Israeli researchers would apply this science to their military designs. Like the Iranian home that mimics a snail’s form in order to stay cool and a bottle inspired by the Namib desert beetle that can harvest water in one of the driest places on earth, Israel Aerospace Industries’ (AIA) latest insect drone, their smallest to date at only 20 grams, takes its intelligence, form and other properties from one of nature’s finest creatures: the butterfly.
The Butterfly drone can perform tricks that have never before been achieved by a surveillance device. It can fly indoors, thereby enabling covert information gathering during meetings inside buildings, at train stations and other public buildings as well as outdoors, and it is equipped with a tiny 0.15 gram camera that takes color photographs.
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ISRAELI “BUTTERFLIES” CAN OBSERVE ANYTHING FROM TRAIN STATIONS, AIRPORT TERMINALS – OR OFFICE BUILDINGS TO EVEN FORESTS  OF SAY SOUTHERN LEBANON

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by Russia Today

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The future is here and this is not a butterfly on your wall, as Israeli drones are getting tiny. Their latest project – a butterfly-shaped drone weighing just 20 grams – the smallest in its range so far – can gather intelligence inside buildings.

­The new miniscule surveillance device can take color pictures and is capable of a vertical take-off and hover flight, just like a helicopter, reports the daily Israel Hayom. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) says this may come in handy in ground clashes, when a soldier would merely take it out of a pocket and send behind the enemy’s line.

The insect-drone, with its 0.15-gram camera and memory card, is managed remotely with a special helmet. Putting on the helmet, you find yourself in the “butterfly’s cockpit” and virtually see what the butterfly sees – in real time.

The butterfly’s advantage is its ability to fly in an enclosed environment. There is no other aerial vehicle that can do that today,” Dubi Binyamini, head of IAI’s mini-robotics department, told Israel Hayom.

Structures under observation can be anything from train stations or  airport terminals – or office buildings – to battlefields and even  forests in, say, southern Lebanon, where Israel believes Hezbollah hides  its ambush squads.

The virtually noiseless “butterfly” flaps  its four wings 14 times per second. Almost translucent, it looks like an  overgrown moth, but is still smaller than some natural butterflies.

This  is bio-mimicry, when technology imitates nature. And this has proved to  hide a trap. When the device was tested at a height of 50-meters, birds  and flies tended to fall behind the device arranging into a flock.

Israeli “butterfly” UAV. Image courtesy: Israel Hayom (Image from http://www.israelhayom.co.il)

The  IAI, Israel’s major aerospace and aviation manufacturer, needs two more  years to polish their “butterfly” project. The product seems to fall  into the trend of reducing drone size. Their recent models promoted for  city observation and conflicts were the Ghost, weighing 4 kg, and  Mosquito, which weighs only 500 grams.

While the “butterfly” may  bring “a real technological revolution,” as the developer predicts, to  the military field, questions remain how it will change the civil life.  The drone is also propped up for police use and there is little doubt  that secret services will be only too happy to grab such an intricate  weapon.

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