Robotic pterodactyl spy-drones will swoop between buildings and perch on apartment balconies

Texas Tech Paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee poses with a model of the Tapejara petrodactyl at the Texas Tech Museum in Lubbock, Texas, July 25, 2008. Chatterjee and a University of Florida aeronautical engineer have designed a military drone after the Brazilian pterodactyl. The flying dinosaur, about the size of a Canada goose, had a large, thin rudder-like sail on its head that functioned as a sensory organ. Using a similar sensory rudder, the 30-inch drone will hopefully be able to fly over combat zones and collect information to send to military commanders. (AP Photo/Artie Ummer)

New Flying Dinosaur Drone to Resemble Pterodactyl

By Jeanna Bryner | Oct 8, 2008

Pterodactyls may have gone extinct millions of years ago, but a newly designed spy plane could bring the flying reptiles to life, albeit replacing blood and guts with carbon fiber and batteries.

“The next generation of airborne drones won’t just be small and silent,” the design team announced recently. “They’ll alter their wing shapes using morphing techniques to squeeze through confined spaces, dive between buildings, zoom under overpasses, land on apartment balconies, or sail along the coastline.”

Called Pterodrone, the spy plane is about the size of a crow but with a much larger wingspan that reaches nearly 32 inches (80 cm).

Its design will be inspired by one of the savviest movers of the Cretaceous, a pterosaur called Tapejara wellnhoferi. This ancient reptile was a morphing machine. On land, Tapejara walked on four legs before rearing up on its two back limbs and running to reach takeoff speed. Once airborne, the beast could cruise at some 19 mph (30 km/h), according to the researchers.

Then, to snap up fish food, the reptile would bend the tips of its wings up to form a three-mast sailboat structure with its body. The membranous crest atop its head would have served as the third sail, used as a rudder for steering, said Sankar Chatterjee, a paleontologist of Texas Tech University who is working on the bio-inspired craft.

Similarly, the Pterodrone will sport morphing wings and a head crest made of carbon fiber and nylon for such multimodal locomotion.

“The crest is analogous to a vertical tail on an aircraft. However, a vertical tail is actually destabilizing if it is placed on the nose instead of the rear, said design team member Rick Lind, a mechanical and aerospace engineer at the University of Florida. “We are investigating the tradeoff such that the crest provides better turn performance and sensor pointing but also requires the wings to compensate and provide stability.”

While the real deal had blood vessels and nerves that served as sensors for temperature, pressure and wind direction, the Pterodrone will be equipped with gyroscopes and a GPS.

“We are trying to build a vehicle that can mimic the motion of the pterosaur, but we are not trying to mimic its nerve/sensory system,” Lind told LiveScience.

Pterodrone is in the design phases right now, but its designers hope to complete a walking, flying and sailing prototype in the near future, depending on funding.

The reptile-inspired concept will be detailed in a presentation this week in Houston at a joint meeting of the Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America-American Society of Agronomy-Crop Science Society of America, and Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies.


10 responses to “Robotic pterodactyl spy-drones will swoop between buildings and perch on apartment balconies

  1. “land on apartment balconies,”

    Lands near me it gets hit with a rake.

  2. Yet another reason to own a good shotgun. Open season on pterodrones.

  3. By the way, it seems I have seen something like these bio-mechanical birds in recent scifi flicks as more predictive programming. If anyone has some ideas, links or pics in this regard, please pass along. Thankz

  4. Pingback: The Remote Viewer » Blog Archive » Robotic pterodactyl spy-drones will swoop between buildings and perch on apartment balconies

  5. I’m not going to waste bullets on that thing. I’ll have more fun beating it with a crowbar when it lands on my balcony.

  6. HIJO DE PUTA! It had to be a foreigner with no love or loyalty to Americans, and in particular, love of Freedom, the Bill of Rights, that came up with the spycraft!

    If it comes near me, it will soon be out of commission!

  7. Check out the Masters of science fiction episode ‘Watchbird’. Its uncanny!

  8. An episode of the Sci-Fi series Dark angel featured drones that when programmed with a targets facial features would perform assasinations , which is currently perfectly within the realms of possibility.

  9. youre right on the money al,another drone that comes to america,he sends all his demon money back to his country,thanks to the elite that allows them here.

  10. Key phrase: “the elite that allows them here.” That is, the elite who control the transnational corporations who in turn control government policies (that filter down to the universities) to suit their own agendas for totalitarian control. So the real blame goes to the biggest shareholders of these global corporations, who are to a great extent, the royal bloodlines.

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