[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 12:48 GMT
Birds and bees to educate spies
A bee on a flower
The planes could be used in times of war and peace
A spy plane with flapping wings and the size of a bee is being developed by at research team at the University of Bath.

The plane could send back video footage of battlegrounds and remove the need for human scouts.

It could also be used for wildlife surveys, fire and rescue operations and the detection of hazardous substances in peacetime.

A prototype could follow in "a couple of years" if the research works.

Dr Ismet Gursul, head of the aerospace research group at the University of Bath, told Reuters: "We are looking for the most efficient way of flying, and the rapid flapping of a flexible wing is one of these.

"In this respect we are imitating nature and the flight of insects and birds."

The planes could also land on the roof of enemy vehicles and mark them for future attack or as carriers of chemical or biological weapons, say researchers.

The team says it realises the project will be tough as small aircraft are vulnerable to high winds.

Dr Gursel said: "The smaller an aircraft is made, the slower is its speed and the more it is vulnerable to high winds.

"This means that existing micro air vehicles can only fly for short periods at low speed and are too large to carry out fine manoeuvres."




SEE ALSO:
Bees to 'sniff out' explosives
14 May 02  |  Science/Nature


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific