A robotic dragonfly from the 70's???

CIA Used Dragonfly, Catfish as Spy Gadget Models Tue Oct 28,12:35 PM ET Add Technology - Reuters to My Yahoo!
By Tabassum Zakaria
LANGLEY, Va. (Reuters) - The CIA (news - web sites) once built a mechanical dragonfly to carry a listening device but found small gusts of wind knocked it off course so it was never used in a spy operation.
The agency also tested a 24-inch-long rubber robot catfish named "Charlie" capable of swimming inconspicuously among other fish and whose mission remains secret.
Charlie and the dragonfly were among spy gadgets displayed at CIA headquarters in an exhibit to mark the 40th anniversary of the Directorate of Science and Technology. It is not open to the public.
"Charlie's mission is still classified, we can't talk about it," Toni Hiley, curator of the CIA museum, told Reuters on a tour of the exhibit. "All we can say is he's our work on aquatic robotic technologies."
After seeing the life-like "insectothopter," Hiley jokes that she cannot look at a dragonfly in the same way anymore.
In the 1970s the CIA had developed a miniature listening device that needed a delivery system, so the agency's scientists looked at building a bumblebee to carry it. They found, however, that the bumblebee was erratic in flight, so the idea was scrapped.
An amateur entymologist on the project then suggested a dragonfly and a prototype was built that became the first flight of an insect-sized machine, Hiley said.
A laser beam steered the dragonfly and a watchmaker on the project crafted a miniature oscillating engine so the wings beat, and the fuel bladder carried liquid propellant.
Despite such ingenuity, the project team lost control over the dragonfly in even a gentle wind. "You watch them in nature, they'll catch a breeze and ride with it. We, of course, needed it to fly to a target. So they were never deployed operationally, but this is a one-of-a-kind piece," Hiley said.
UP TEMPO
Donald Kerr, CIA deputy director for science and technology whose equivalent in a James Bond movie would be "Q" the master spy gadgeteer, said the tempo of spy operations has increased since his directorate was established in August 1963.
"You look at just the number of things we're doing, a week, a year, it's really quite astounding," Kerr said.
U.S. spy agencies are trying to develop technologies to track individuals, but the United States has so far failed to find two of the world's most wanted men -- al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).
"It's not a new problem, it's in fact been a problem for law enforcement for years. So one of the areas we spend a lot of effort on is so-called tagging and tracking," Kerr said.
"It's everything from 'can I paint a bullseye on your back and follow you with a camera?' Or do you leave a trail of candy wrappers that are unique to you that I can use to find you?" Kerr said. "So you're dealing with the physical and electronic detritus that people leave behind as one way of tracking." Facial recognition technology can be useful but not to search for an individual because the databases are too big. "If I have a picture of somebody in the New York subway and I search it against pictures of everybody I think are bad people in the world, it's an immense problem and the false results are overwhelming," Kerr said.
The CIA also showed off its miniature technology.
A microdot camera had a tiny lens on top of what looked like a thick coin, which contained a film that rotated 11 times to produce 11 microdots.
Another item on display was newly declassified triangle-shaped directional antenna, weighing four ounces and used on mobile surveillance operations throughout the 1980s.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news? tmpl=story&u=/nm/20031028/tc_nm/tech_cia_dc_1
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: LANGLEY, Va. (Reuters) - The CIA (news - web sites) once built a : mechanical dragonfly to carry a listening device but found small gusts of : wind knocked it off course so it was never used in a spy operation.
Sure someone hasn't been reading "Danny Dunn: Invisible Boy" ?
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I was too embarrassed to admit remembering that.
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: I was too embarrassed to admit remembering that.
:-) Notice I didn't feel the need to explain it much. I would be very surprised if most people reading this over the age of, oh 30 or so weren't familiar with the Danny Dunn books.
While my son is only 3, I have been looking lately for the books I liked as a kid. DD is out of print - I have some, the rest I'm sure the library still has. The good news is, The Mad Scientists's Club books are back in print. The author's son is releaseing them through Purple House Press. The first three are out now, with #4 to follow shortly.
Yes - FOUR. The third had a very limited print originally, and the 4th was never published before. (And if anyone things this is OT -- their radio-controlled sea monster is probably what got me first into robots.)
A new Mad Scientists's Club book, a never before published Heinlein will be out for Xmas -- this is turning into a great year ! :-)
-Chris
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