Maple Seed Drones Usher in New Era of Surveillance

There has been a great deal of discussion related to the use of drones not only in an ongoing war effort but also the potential for law enforcement agencies to use them in America as well.

Aircraft and weapons manufacture Lockheed Martin has created a new type of unmanned drone that could be use both efficiently and cheaply in a wide range of fashions.

The new drones are changing the way we think about unmanned flight called Samarai Drones, they were designed after a very specific part of nature – maple seeds.

Maple seeds are usually found in fall and resemble one wing. Maple seeds spin from the branches and flutter when sown to the ground. The Samarai uses one propelled wing attached to a pod at the base of the wing to mimic the flight of the maple seed.

Lockheed Martin's Samarai drones recreate the spinning motion in order to propel them through the air. By changing the rate of rotation the drones are able to either glide or fly to a destination.

The first model measured 11.81 inches, but a newer one is smaller at 6.69 inches, according to Lockheed Martin.

The purpose of the drones is to remove the necessity for large and expensive drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to conduct surveillance for any situation.

"Think about dropping a thousand of these out of an aircraft," Bill Borgia, head of Lockheed Martin's Intelligent Robotics Lab, told TPM during an interview.

"Think about the wide area over which one collects imagery," he added. "Instead of sending one or two expensive, highly valuable aircraft like we do today, you could send thousands of these inexpensive aircraft, and they are almost expendable."

Lockheed Martin has yet to disclose the possible flight times and range for either the battery-powered or the carbon-fuel-powered version. Lockheed Martin has stated that it is currently focused on reducing the size of the drones.