Butterfly spy

Israeli Aircraft Industries introduces latest,smallest spy drone.

butterflys spy drone 521 (photo credit: IAI)
butterflys spy drone 521
(photo credit: IAI)
An electronic fly on the wall? It’s a military intelligence and documentarymaker’s dream, and it’s about to become true. Except it’s not a fly, it’s a butterfly. Meet the butterfly robot (http:// www.iai.co.il/22031-en/Homepage.aspx), the latest, smallest spy drone from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI).
The butterfly robot is a product of IAI’s miniature robotics lab, a specialized division developing small technologies on the border of nanoscience.
The laboratory is part of IAI’s work on autonomous systems, including unmanned aircraft and robotic systems for terrestrial and marine use.
The butterfly is unique because its vertical take-off ability allows it to fly within enclosed spaces, including buildings.
It carries a camera weighing just 0.15 gram, which transmits color images in real time to an operator who sees what the butterfly is seeing via a special helmet.
The system is designed to support special forces operations in close quarters urban combat as well as general intelligence gathering.
At 20 cm long and with a weight of just 12 grams, the butterfly can track a suspect virtually unnoticed. It is propelled forwards by four wings that mimic those of a real butterfly and flap 14 times per second, without making a sound.
“This system will fly into a building and no one will notice it because it is silent and transparent. It has a camera and a microphone to transmit information to an outside source,” says Arie Egozi, an Israeli military aviation expert. He predicts it will be several years before the butterfly is operational.
The idea of constructing military hardware based on animals has been used before. The first designs of modern fighter jets were based on sharks. Israeli inventors have created a crawling, tube-like camera that mimics a snake.
Israeli defense contractors are developing systems at each end of the size spectrum, from the butterfly and the four-kilo Ghost drone, to five-ton Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that can carry missiles and stay airborne for days.
In addition to Israel, the United States, South Korea and Holland are known to be working on developing mini-drones.
However, the butterfly does have a downside. Prototypes have been attacked by birds mistaking it for prey.
Tagging made simple
One of the main reasons why people started to use Facebook’s photosharing option, despite the fact that it initially lacked basic features such as rotating a picture, was the ability to tag your friends. With a simple click and a scroll through your contacts list, you could tell all your friends and all their friends where you were and what you looked like.
In April, Facebook invested in the future of photo-sharing by purchasing Instagram for $1 billion.
But as tagging grows on mobile devices, the combination of a small screen and a friends list that includes hundreds of people means it isn’t always easy – especially if you are at a great party or sports event and don’t want to miss any of the action.
The KLIK 1.0 app from Tel Aviv-based Face.com.(http://face.com/) offers a solution to iPhone users. Using facial recognition technology, the app promises to recognize the friends you are photographing, even before you push the button.
The app must first be synchronized with a Facebook account. A privacy setting requires users to tag someone once before the automation kicks in. The app will not share tags for a Facebook user who has blocked this option.
The facial recognition software was developed by Face.com and became available to developers for free in 2010 for those passing a certain daily number of users.
Locked and loaded
Israeli lock maker Mul-T-Lock has teamed up with global communication technology developer Starcom Systems to produce WatchLock, (http://www.watchlock.com/he/ product/), which the makers say is the world’s first GPS integrated padlock.
The lock, which doesn’t need an external power source and isn’t much larger than an average industrial lock, keeps a log of every time it is opened. If someone tries to open it without a designated key, an alarm will be sent via sms or email.
Potential users include security firms looking after businesses or farmers who have valuable equipment stored in remote locations.
The integrated GPS technology can also be used to track goods being shipped, allowing the sender to keep a watch on where a container is at all times via a website. The system will alert the user about any attempt to open the lock or to divert it from its preset route, helping to ensure that goods arrive just the way they were sent.