Seems our wonderful Government is experimenting with tiny spy planes that will criss-cross the country and photo every square inch as we march toward 1984. We read that these tiny planes will have a 3 foot (1 meter) wingspan and somehow touch down on electrical lines to “refuel.”
Spy planes to recharge by clinging to power lines
The next time you see something flapping in the breeze on an overhead power line, squint a little harder. It may not be a plastic bag or the remnants of a party balloon, but a tiny spy plane stealing power from the line to recharge its batteries.
The idea comes from the US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) in Dayton, Ohio, US, which wants to operate extended surveillance missions using remote-controlled planes with a wingspan of about a metre, but has been struggling to find a way to refuel to extend the plane’s limited flight duration.
So the AFRL is developing an electric motor-powered micro air vehicle (MAV) that can “harvest” energy when needed by attaching itself to a power line. It could even temporarily change its shape to look more like innocuous piece of trash hanging from the cable.
AFRL’s initial aim is to work out how to make a MAV flying at 74 kilometres per hour latch onto a power line without destroying itself or the line.
In addition, so as not to arouse suspicion, AFRL says the spy plane will need to collapse its wings and hang limply on the cable like a piece of wind-blown detritus. Much of the “morphing” technology to perform this has already been developed by DARPA, the Pentagon’s research division. Technologies developed in that program include carbon composite “sliding skins”, which allow fuselages to change shape, and telescopic wings that allow lift to be boosted in seconds by boosting a wing’s surface area.
So next time you look up and you see what looks like some debris flapping around on the electric lines, take a closer look. If it’s some type of little spy plane, well, then it’s open season.
A good double-ought buckshot should take care of recharging it’s batteries…
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