July 4, 2009

Robot hummingbirds to terrorize our enemies.

A real Pentagon project. Video of the actual robot at the link. I'm picturing something more like this:


rhhardin said...

It only needs a wounded Lloyd Bridges struggling up two hundred identical flights of stairs to fill out the half hour.

Though they didn't know about bad lighting in the 60s.

Lem said...

Birds have enough problems adapting our electromagnetic noise.

Now we are going to add the chance that they might be confused for spies?

Chip Ahoy said...

They've got a lot of work to do.

Real humming birds go )))ping((( )))ping((( )))ping((( )))whirrrrrrrrrrrrr((( )))ping(((

The first time I saw genuine hummingbirds at a feeder outside a window of a mountain café here in Colorado I nearly soiled myself with excitement. Later I learned they are actually quite common as low as the foothills and even in the city, two species at least. I photographed a whole bunch of them feeding on a patio in Genese (near that futuristic house used in W. Allen's Bananas) but that was with an early digital camera and hosted on a now defunct British site with files on a hard drive that has since crashed, and this makes me sad.

Now I have a great camera and the person who owned that particular patio has died. (Heart attack while hiking at altitude, attributed to arthritis medicine.) So now I'm doubly sad about photographing hummingbirds.

I learned you can coax hummingbirds to sit on your finger while feeding if you're sufficiently patient. You must remain perfectly still long enough for them to check you out and to regard you as harmless.

Another friend had feeders in Grand Junction. He told me the birds get pissed off when their feeders run out and they buzz him, attack his head, until he refills the feeder. So they made him his slave.

Once we filled a feeder at a seldom-used cabin at tree line. It immediately attracted a host of hummingbirds, who fought over it, they're quite territorial. Amusingly, after sipping the supersaturated sweetened water the birds would get a sugar-rush and speed off performing astonishing aerodynamics apparently for the sheer fun of flying, barrel rolls, loop-d-loops, like tiny jets, they'd take off straight up, disappear in their tininess, then dive-bomb back to the feeder. They're very difficult to visually follow, even clear of the trees. I always wanted to find one of their nests, assuming they're nesting and not just passing through.

Chip Ahoy said...
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Cedarford said...

Hummingbirds, like man, the tuna, the wolf - for different reasons - represent an apogee of evolution.

The hummingbird took quite a path to hyper-metabolism. They evolved recently (25 million years or so) from insect-eaters similar to swifts. Only a few fossils have been found because they are so "flimsy" in construction. Thought to have only existed in the Western Hemisphere until Germans found 25 million year old fossils in the same volcanic pit as the transitional simian "ADA" was found in, in Messel.

Like Chip's friend, when living in Colorado - I or my then-GF was buzzed by, "hovered" by pissed off hummingbirds if we let our (their) nectar feeder run empty. We also watched them nail wasps that were also attracted to the sugar water, and swarm and pick apart Mormon crickets almost as big as them during a big hatchout.

And yes, sometimes they seem to fly and do amazing aerial stunts, mock dog fights no jet pilot can dream of.. for the pure fun of it

Learned they are unique in needing a dual food supply. Flower nectar for their copious energy needs, insects for nutrients, protein, fat diet needs.

Just a beautiful, fascinating form of life.

In Minority Report, the mechanical spiders were a real highlight of that flick.

And maybe it is "Terminator" type of creepy, but America does face urban warfare now and into the future, and we need to find better ways of locating concealed, ready to die enemy than the present option of "Send Marines in and see if they draw fire, as long as they kill more than they get killed.

Robots are one solution, but a better one may be in mass-breeding rodents or flying insects. That are attracted to living human scent, human visual cue, or high explosives scent of enemy in concealment - and carry a RFID chip for signalling location.

Unlikely they can discern between civilians and Jihadi suicide squads...but we may be coming to a day when we tell enemy in an untaken city that civilians have 2 days to get out...then the mechanical spiders, human sweat-loving rats, or amino-acid attracted bees will be sent in to locate presumed hostile life left there.

Beats losing Americans house-to-house, or employing carpet bombing, or resumed use of indiscriminant gas in warfare.