No matter how progressive humanity gets in technology and innovation, we will always go back to the basics every time we need to learn the best way to do and design things. For instance, insects, birds, and even fishes under the sea were observed during the design and creation of planes, submarines, and drones, among all others. The same thing applies to unmanned vehicles, and here are some of those innovative and impressive results of observing and copying mother nature. What’s more tried and tested than the body shape and movement of creatures that have been honed over millions and millions of years of adaptation and evolution?

AeroVironment Nano Hummingbird UAS

The Nano Hummingbird UAS was a first-of-its-kind innovation designed and developed by AeroVironment’s MacCready Works Advanced Solutions team. Inspired by, you guessed it, the hummingbird, this micro air vehicle with tri-axis control was the very first flapping-wing, nano unmanned air vehicle. The UAV can hover and fly sideways, backward, and forward, as well as rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise, all via remote control and a video camera payload, just like how hummingbirds can fly.

The Nano Hummingbird surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft developed by AeroVironment, Inc. under contract with the United States Government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. (DARPA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The hummingbird-like aircraft was developed as part of the Nano-Air Vehicle program led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Not only did they make it behave like a hummingbird, but they also made it look like one. The 19 g flying prototype can fly at around 11 miles per hour and has a wingspan of 6.3 inches, all powered by batteries, motors, and communications systems. DARPA contributed some $4 million to the AeroVironment beginning in 2006 to create this prototype.

You might be asking, “What for?” The hummingbird would be perfect for reconnaissance and surveillance, especially in urban mission operations. It could perch on power lines or windowsills. It could also enter buildings and relay the views back to its operator, you know, like a spy bird.