Cigarette-sized unmanned aircraft, utilising plasma thrusters for power, may sound like something out of the pits of science fiction's B-rate movie bin to us, but we aren't DARPA. That's right the guys at DARPA are actually working with boffins at Oklahoma State University to make the vision a reality.
The technology will rely on a cutting-edge propulsion system, which will be powered by plasma thrusters, eliminating any moving parts. Check out the above diagram for a basic schematic of what elements will be included in the micro-scaled aircraft.
The energy created will be enough to power micro and nano unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), measuring anywhere between 6-12-inches in length. It is hoped soldiers will be able to carry a pack of six such vehicles, which could then be thrown up in the air to carry out intelligence collection operations. We cannot build a coherent sentence to emphasise how amazingly cool this sounds, but a list of words comes to mind: voyeurism, unbelievable, crazy, lube, exceptional and sexy are words that feature in our immediate, mangled thoughts. [Cnet]