From his upturned palm, Ryan Carr launches then expertly flies what appears to be a remote-controlled bird. Later, the aeronautical engineer uses special equipment to examine the machine's flight characteristics. Scientist Joseph McDermott works at the Air Force Research Lab in Dayton, Ohio, with materials so tiny the width of a human hair is huge by comparison. Welcome to the world of micro air vehicles (MAVs) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Here hobby-store aircraft are helping scientists design a futuristic line of miniature flying spy vehicles.
We take the technology that we have and we try to design something that does the same thing as a hummingbird or dragonfly does," explains Carr.