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Dragonflies - The Latest Inspiration For Defence

Wed, 21 Aug 2002

Dragonflies - The Latest Inspiration For Defence Scientific Research

The uncanny ability of a dragonfly to fly steadily even when the weather is bad has proved inspirational for scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation and the Australian National University.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said today the scientists had successfully developed a micro-autopilot robotic aircraft based on their world leading research into the way insects see.

The aircraft is a feature of insect vision workshops being held at the DSTO display at the Australian Science Festival in Canberra, organised as part of National Science Week.

"DSTO's Dr Javaan Chahl and his colleagues at ANU based their work on an obscure sensor in the heads of dragonflies that helps the insects maintain level flight under adverse conditions," Senator Hill said.

"The technology they have developed to mimic the insect's sensory system can potentially be applied to precision guided weapons and unmanned combat aircraft.

"Such systems will most likely play a major role in the future, providing significant benefits to both the civilian and military worlds in terms of improved surveillance capability and reduced risk to life," Senator Hill said.

"In fact, DSTO is working with NASA in an effort to develop such insect inspired technologies into an aerial vehicle that may one day explore Mars." Senator Hill said this research was part of a strategic effort by DSTO to build capability in robotics.

"DSTO is undertaking a number of activities in the area of robotic air and underwater vehicles," Senator Hill said.

"It is expanding its work into a more broadly based and integrated research program in robotic systems."


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