Lockheed Martin has test flown the Samarai prototype UAV monocopter late last year. Its design is inspired by the maple seed and couldn't be more minimalistic.
It's got a 760 mm (30") wingspan, is electrically powered and was built by using off-the-shelf components.

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Comment by Jack Crossfire on January 7, 2010 at 10:57am
We know. Recently, Steve Morris's work in monocopters 19 years ago came to light.

Comment by Dustin Romero on January 7, 2010 at 5:01pm
that thing looks like a death machine lol
Comment by Garry Qualls on January 8, 2010 at 3:07am
I met some Embry-Riddle students at the AUVSI conference in DC this past year who had made a decent maple seed that they could fly around. They had an Arduino Pro Mini and an XBee onboard. Maybe someone around here would be interested in making one? Here is their web site:


There are papers available online. There was also a company marketing a sort of powered boomerang with a body-fixed camera underneath and they would autostitch the imagery onto a constantly refreshed, texture-mapped, half-sphere that the operator would look at using a headset.

Lots of room for fun projects along these lines...maybe toy lizard transportation, a la Avatar?
Comment by Garry Qualls on January 8, 2010 at 3:29am
For some reason, it never occurred to me to make a winged vehicle that would make this much smoke and fire on purpose:


I think that I would recruit an experienced skeet shooter with a 12 gauge shotgun and good reflexes for protection before I tried a 2nd flight of that one. Monocopters seem to be a very exciting hobby:


I think this was their intention:


...so they don't have to go completely crazy to be cool.
Comment by jaron on January 8, 2010 at 4:20am
I think it has some potential for interesting DIY projects with its simple airframe and with sophisticated electronics getting cheaper.

Another monocopter developed at the University of Maryland and the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center.

Comment by Mike Bakula on January 8, 2010 at 7:45am
Hi Garry, I was captain of the team that developed ERAU's monocopter last year -- if you have questions, I'd be happy to answer them.
Comment by Garry Qualls on January 12, 2010 at 2:45am
Thanks Mike, I may take you up on your offer some day! I think the allure of this platform for me is the minimal complement of aircraft pieces that then have to balanced by a fairly high level of sophistication on the electronics side to get successful, controlled flight. It's at the opposite end of the spectrum from a naturally stable foam airplane using its rudder to steer toward waypoints. It is susceptible to different kinds of creativity.


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