Wednesday, December 18, 2013

are insect spy drones real?


I called this image a fake. Someone disagreed. I was going to tweet a response but there's numbers and evidence and shit which gets drawn out and needs a blog post. So here I am.

I think its fake because its too complicated. Machines are simple. They do not approach the complexity of even the simplest cell. That image shows something that looks like a mosquito. It has mosquito-shaped wings and legs and what appears to be a multi-instrumental proboscis. The more I  look at it the more I know its a fake. Here's the evidence:

  • This link has video showing what a real insect drones look like. Note that it does NOT look like a mosquito. It looks like a toy. It has few moving parts. That's because moving parts require movement systems including motors, drivers, wires and a power source. Every extra moving part requires more capability in the CPU controlling all that shit. That means more power too. I made the audacious claim that there wasn't a power source in existence that could power the alleged mosquito drone for any useful period. 
  • Look at a quadrocopter, for example. My nephew has a Hubsan X107 X4. Its a toy. It has a 240mAh battery that keeps it aloft for less than 10 minutes. The person who this post is aimed at linked to a paper published in a very prestigious journal in 2008 that reported the development of a revolutionary new lithium ion nanotechnology that would increase the capacity of li-ion batteries by 10 fold. In the link the author of the paper claims "this new technology can be pushed to real life quickly,". Note that the paper was published five years ago. I haven't seen any hyper-capable li-ion batteries on the market. 
  • Even if the technology was available to the NSA, the CIA and all the other hyper evil people, because of the complexity of the mosquito drone there's no way its consumption is comparable with my nephew's toy quadrocopter. If the Hubsan could stay aloft for 90 minutes, that would be rad. But if, instead of running some cheap brushless motors, a CPU and a little 2.4GHz receiver it had to simultaneously control 6 multi-jointed limbs, 2 wings and a head full of sensory gear transmitting an audio visual feed, then I don't think even the hypothetical super-battery would last more than the same 9 minutes the Hubsan currently achieves. I am, of course, assuming a similar power-to-weight ratio here as well as a similar battery-to-weight ratio.
  • G_Funk_D, the protagonist here, also suggested that the mosquito drone could run off solar power. That sounds reasonable although I don't see any solar panels and even if the entire surface was doped there would be a tiny, tiny output in anything other than direct sun light. If this thing is meant to fly outdoors then its performance is going to be very restricted by the weather conditions (as are actual mosquitos) or it is going to consume implausible quantities of power. If its not meant to fly outdoors then solar power is simply not an issue. Indoor conditions would be much more favourable to such a device. 
  • Finally, the ultimate nail in the coffin: Snopes says its not real