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DARPA's Maple leaf Remote Control drone takes first flight (video)

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After five years behind locked doors, researchers at Lockheed Martin's Intelligent Robotics Laboratories in New Jersey have emerged with a working prototype of the "Samarai," a tiny DARPA-commissioned surveillance drone. The nano air vehicles (NAVs), modeled after falling Maple leaf seeds, are designed to be super light weight and agile for vertical lift off, hovering, and navigation in tight spaces. Like your favorite $5 Subway sammie, these surveillance bots are a foot long, but instead of being shoveled in your mouth, they're thrown like boomerangs into flight and controlled using a tablet app or a basic remote. These eyes in the sky will officially launch next week at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Conference, but until then you can check out the video of their first flight below.

Update: Lockheed Martin wrote in to let us know that although originally commissioned by DARPA, this project is currently funded internally. Lockheed also noted that the flight recorded in the video is only a test flight, rather than a first flight for the Samarai.



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