The speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi? Amateurs, compared to this footage taken by a camera mounted on a Northern Goshawk as it hunts for prey, flying at high speed through thick woodland, avoiding obstacles. The video was posted by DARPA to show what it hopes to accomplish with a new class of autonomous UAVs.

It's called the Fast Lightweight Autonomy program (and, given DARPA's well-known penchant for goofy acronyms, I'm surprised they didn't call it FLAP). DARPA aims to develop and demonstrate the capability for UAVs small enough to fit through windows to fly at speeds up to 45 mph—while navigating complex indoor spaces independent of communication with outside operators or sensors and without reliance on GPS waypoints.

Advertisement