The Army's Mighty Miniatures of War

A lot's made of the drones that power many of the US Army's attacks these days, the missile-equipped UAVs that attack and surveille under the veil of silence and cover of cloud. But there are other, smaller Army bots out there. Specifically, in a testing ground known as the microaviary.

The NY Times got a good close look at the mighty mites, mechanical beasts that imitate the movements of hummingbirds, hawks, and any other flying creature whose strengths we hope to harness:

The push right now is developing "flapping wing" technology, or recreating the physics of natural flight, but with a focus on insects rather than birds. Birds have complex muscles that move their wings, making it difficult to copy their aerodynamics. Designing insects is hard, too, but their wing motions are simpler.

Predators, Reapors, Shadows. They sound like failed XFL teams. But these are the future of warfare; in many ways they're already the present. It's an almost overwhelming amount of engineering, of data collection, of innovation. And increasingly, our most important bootcamp is a warehouse for shiny toys that think they're birds. [NY Times, Photo credit: Chang W. Lee]