Samarai UAV from Lockheed Martin
Size: 150 grams, 12-inch wingspan
Habitat: Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Tech Laboratories in Bethesda, Maryland
Behavior: Like the spiraling maple-leaf seedlings—more commonly known as whirlybirds—that inspired it, the single wing spins around a central hub to create lift. A miniature jet engine provides thrust. A tiny flap on the trailing edge of the wing, its only moving part, controls direction. If engineers can shrink it to three inches and 15 grams, the autonomous device could be used to spy indoors.
Notable Feature: In the future, a camera mounted on the central hub that snaps a picture once every rotation will collect enough images to stitch together full-motion video. Diet: Today, batteries; but engineers plan to feed the next version propane, which is light and readily available in the military supply chain.