The mad inventor from the James Bond movies, Q, is real. Only there are lots of him, and they have a lot more money at their disposal. In the real world, they're called DARPA -- the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Never heard of them? You should have -- they're responsible for some of the best technology (the Internet) and the worst (Agent Orange) produced in the last 50 years. Their job is to dream up the craziest shit possible and make it real. And, since they're exempt from several government hiring and spending laws, they're not shy about thinking outside the box. Way, way outside.
Some of what they're working on right now includes ...
5Creepy Robot Hummingbirds and Space Planes
If you want a plane to get to where the bad guys are without being noticed, you have several options: You can make it fly really, really high and really, really fast (as is typical with spy planes), or you can get creative. DARPA has utterly insane plans to do both.
"We've finally weaponized the doorstop, men."
First we have FALCON, or Force Application and Launch from Continental United States (we hope they pay their acronym guys really well). The FALCON program is mainly focused on the X-41 CAV -- an alien-looking, cone-shaped "near-space" plane that can go 13,000 miles per hour (which is 20 times the speed of sound).
This is either a 3-D model of it or an official DARPA bicycle seat.
If you don't understand what 20 times the speed of sound gets you, how about this: It can go anywhere in the world, and photograph or kill anyone, in an hour or so.
But DARPA is also capable of thinking small -- the kind of small that is somehow creepier than a magical instant-death murdership.
"An estimated 80 percent of conversations go unrecorded. DARPA can fix that."
That's why they're also looking into something they call micro air vehicles, like the Shrike, which basically looks exactly like a kid's RC copter and is built primarily for spying and reconnaissance. So, really, it is an RC copter, with an iPhone taped to it.
And if that sounds unimpressive, don't worry -- they're also developing the much smaller and much creepier NAV -- the Nano Air Vehicle. One day you might find one hanging around your neighbor's bird feeder.
Yes, we're talking about a tiny robot hummingbird that can spy on terrorists (and maybe you). The whole thing is less than 6 inches tall and lighter than an ounce, and as demonstrated by the image on the project's page, it will fool absolutely everyone ever.
"I AM A NORMAL EARTH HUMMINGBIRD. PLEASE DO NOT APPROACH."
This is part of DARPA's ongoing effort to create ...