Justin Thomas and his colleagues at the GRASP Lab have produced an �avian-inspired� claw drone that mimics the way an eagle uses its talons to grab a fish out of the ocean.
A video clip of the drone shows the UAV swooping down at high speed to snatch an object using its 3D printed mechanical claw. By mimicking how a bald eagle sweeps its legs and claws backwards to aerodynamically close in on its prey without the need to slow down, the drone is able to grasp a stationary object with precise efficiency.
Drexel University�s Christopher Korpela is simultaneously developing flight stability software for drones with arms that would enable the UAV�s to carry a weighty object without them falling out of the air. The eventual purpose of the drones would be focused around �interacting with people or the environment,� although that is still a long way off according to Korpela.
Technology journalist Adario Strange envisages a future scenario where a larger version of the eagle claw drone could be used by law enforcement or military to pluck humans off the ground.
�The optimistic view of this development offers a vision of an emergency situation in which a drone could rapidly fly in and save a person from a perilous situation, but it�s also fairly easy to imagine law enforcement and the military using this development to grab human targets in coming years,� writes Strange, reporting for DVice.com.
�We may be about to see a return to the days when unseen hunters lurking in the sky could easily snatch a human right off the street,� he adds, referring to the pterosaur, a flying reptile that existed during the time of the Dinosaurs.
Although this incarnation of the eagle claw drone is far too small to snatch and grab a human, the potential that larger models could be deployed for that very purpose in future is sure to make many nervous.
As we reported yesterday, military insiders like Lt. Col. Douglas Pryer are warning that drone technology will soon metastasize into armies of remorseless killer robots which will be used to stalk and incapacitate human targets.
Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, has also repeatedly warned that the robots currently being developed under the auspices of DARPA will eventually be used to kill.
�Of course if it�s used for combat, it would be killing civilians as well as it�s not going to be able to discriminate between civilians and soldiers,� said Sharkey.
Does give us something to think about right? What's next?