The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has earmarked an initial $12 million for design of micro air vehicles (MAV) and development of enabling technologies for the miniature 150mm MAVs.

The Pentagon picked six research organisations to develop flight-enabling MAV technologies over the next three years. The contracts, totalling $12 million, vary in size from $650,000 to $3 million. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will develop micro-electromechanical systems-based micro-gas turbine engines for MAVs. D-STAR Engineering, based in Shelton, Connecticut, will consider lightweight propulsion and power systems.

Virginia-based Technology in Blacksburg will work on a thermoelectric-based advanced MAV, and SRI International of Menlo Park, California, will research "flapping-wing" propulsion using special actuators. An elasto-dynamic ornithoptic flying robotic insect is the subject of Vanderbilt University's contract, and the California Institute of Technology will develop a "micro bat".

Source: Flight International