There are certain tropes within our military that will, hopefully, never disappear from American pop culture.
One of those ideas is the concept that our highest technological advancements appear within military equipment, secretly, several decades before those same technologies become available to the general public. This “meme”, if you will, seems to go hand in hand with the idea that Americans have recovered alien spacecraft and reverse-engineered their devices at a secret Air Force facility in the deserts of Nevada.
Directly related to this all-too typical idea of military prominence is the idea that there is a laboratory somewhere within this clandestine cabal working on some truly zany concepts. This is the mad scientist effect on pop culture, where we can all too easily picture a wild-haired, 1950’s throwback scientist with a pile of equipment mounting on his workbench, always babbling on about some incredibly specific new apparatus he’s been feverishly close to completing. Something along the lines of a belt driven MRE oven, water cooled fog-less binoculars, or a laser powered bat drone.
Believe it or not, that last one is all too real thanks to the Pentagon.
“On Wednesday, the the Defense Enterprise Science Initiative, or DESI, announced a competition for basic science grants to build ‘new paradigms for autonomous flight, with a focus on highly-maneuverable platforms and algorithms for flight control and decision making.’ An accompanying Broad Agency Announcement gets more specific: basically, they’re looking for bat-like drones that can be powered with directed-energy beams.
“’The biological study of agile organisms such as bats and flying insects has yielded new insights into complex flight kinematics of systems with a large number of degrees of freedom, and the use of multi-functional flight surface materials,’ the announcement reads. The Air Force believes that more and more naturalistic design — coupled with more powerful and smaller sensors to form a better picture of the outside world — should yield ‘significant improvements in maneuverability, survivability and stealth over traditional quadcopter or fixed wing designs.’”
Better yet, here’s a video demonstration for you:
The best part: If this is the sort of technology that will be available to Americans in 50 years at a consumer level, that means that our grandkids will be able to catch our great grandkids sneaking cigarettes behind the shed through the use of an inconspicuous flying camera.