Some military aircrafts will be the size of dragonflies

Published: June 24th, 2008

Category: Spotlights

Peter Ifju

Peter Ifju

Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
College of Engineering

Ifju and his team are exploring ways to bring a new technology to U.S. troops in war zones. He’s working on tiny, battery-powered airplanes that could be deployed from a soldier’s backpack to scan the surrounding area and see what’s over the next hill.

Ifju and his colleagues started their research in 1997 and developed their first micro-aerial vehicle, or MAV, which was 18 inches, weighed 10 ounces and was powered by a gasoline engine. Today, they’ve refined it down to a battery-powered model only 5 inches long and weighing a mere 2 ounces.

The research is funded in part by U.S. Army Special Operations, which hopes Ifju will develop a system that its soldiers can begin using within the next few years. The National Science Foundation, the U.S. Air Force and NASA’s Langley Research Center also have contributed to the UF effort, providing a total of about $500,000.

Photo credit: Kristen Bartlett Grace — University Photography

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