Tapping into the Grid

The Air Force Research Laboratory is investigating how to design micro air vehicles so that they can stay aloft for much longer than is currently possible. Under one novel idea, tiny sensor aircraft in need of a recharge would attach themselves to a power line to restore their batteries and then fly away to continue their mission, New Scientist.com reports. Challenges abound, such as enabling the nimble aircraft to couple with the line without damage to itself or the line and creating a morphing airframe that can hang on the lines inconspicuously without arousing suspicion. The lab anticipates testing latching mechanisms this year, the magazine says.