Engineers in the growing unmanned aircraft industry are working on drones that look like insects and the helicopter-like maple leaf seed.
Researchers are even exploring ways to implant surveillance and other equipment into an insect as it is undergoing metamorphosis. They want to be able to control the creature.
AeroVironment has a history of developing such aircraft.
Over the decades, the Monrovia, Calif.-based company has developed everything from a flying mechanical reptile to a hydrogen-powered plane capable of flying in the stratosphere and surveying an area larger than Afghanistan at one glance.
It has become a leader in the hand-launched drone industry.
Whats coming is a new generation of aircraft with the agility and appearance of small birds
Lockheed Martin has developed a fake maple leaf seed, or so-called whirly bird, loaded with navigation equipment and imaging sensors. The spy plane weighs .07 ounces.
On the far end of the research spectrum, DARPA is also exploring the possibility of implanting live insects during metamorphosis with video cameras or sensors and controlling them by applying electrical stimulation to their wings.
The idea is for the military to be able to send in a swarm of bugs loaded with spy gear.
Already developed were flies, bees being flow remotely, controlled by electrodes inserted in their brains.