A state-of-the-art propulsion system, one that uses plasma thrusters with no moving parts, could provide power for micro and nano unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV.)This class of airplane can measure anywhere from a foot to less than 6 inches long.
"What we want the infantrymen to be able to do is pull a pack of six or so out of their pocket and have them ready for use," Jamey Jacob, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering told the Daily.
The new line of aircraft would take over some of the duties performed by today's UAV fleet, mainly surveillance of hostile areas, and would be a significant improvement over the UAV equipment available to soldiers today, according to Jacob. OSU students are working on another DARPA project, an aircraft that can stay aloft for five years at a stretch.