Defense company Lockheed Martin is showcasing its one-winged SAMARAI drone at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International in Washington.
SAMARAI is approximately a foot long and flies using a cyclic lift motion – much like a helicopter. The drone boasts just two moving parts, along with a camera, and is piloted using a remote control or via an app running on a tablet.
The versatile drone can take off vertically, be tossed like a boomerang for instant deployment, or dropped from a plane to collect ground-level images.
As Wired’s Mark Brown notes, SAMARAI was inspired by maple and sycamore seeds, which both Lockheed and DARPA consider the “helicopters of the natural world” as they travel long distances by whipping their blades around in the wind.
Although SAMARAI was originally slated to be seed-size with a tiny, two-gram payload, the current iteration of the drone seems to resemble a rather sizable boomerang.