The US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is investigating a key problem involving surveillance missions using remote controlled planes with a wingspan of about a meter. The challenge is they need a way to refuel the planes to extend their limited flight duration.
The solution? They’re developing an electric motor that can harvest energy by attaching themselves to power lines, this is form of vampire power that is bled out through some undetectable (or not easily detectable) means.
Think seeing a small plane dangling from the power lines would be a little too obvious and would be counter detected? You’re right, which is why they may also leverage some technology developed by DARPA that will allow the plan to fold in key parts of itself, effectively morphing to look like a piece of trash hanging to the lines.
Test flights are planned for 2008.
Check out NewScientistTech for all the details on this marvelous hack.
Note: the pic above is the Navy’s WASP micro air vehicle, I couldn’t find pics relevant to this program.