Researchers are developing a tiny, gliding drone that can be dropped from airplanes to gather data directly from hurricanes, and these teensy machines share a name with a noisy spring-emerging insect.
Close-in Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft MK5, or CICADA, is “essentially a flying circuit board,” an autonomous, GPS-controlled drone so inexpensive to make that it would be considered disposable after a single use, representatives of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) said in a statement.
Unlike its noisy insect namesake, CICADA is exceedingly quiet — with no motor, it is silent and virtually undetectable in the air, NRL officials said in 2015. CICADA’s latest prototype, with a flattened wing and body design, make it easy to stack the individual “micro” aircraft, so that large numbers of CICADAs could be deployed at the same time from an airborne vehicle. This would enable scientists to distribute sensors and collect data across large areas of the sky, according to the NRL. [8 Ways Animal Flight Inspires Drone Designs]