Predators are just the beginning: The US military is building drones of all shapes, imitating bugs and birds not only in flight techniques but also in tiny size. An Ohio Air Force base has a flight lab known as the “microaviary,” where experts study “how you hide in plain sight,” an engineer tells the New York Times. At the opposite end of the spectrum are spy balloons that look like blimps and fly thousands of feet in the air, taking video of insurgent activity below.
By 2030, the Pentagon expects to have “spy flies” that can find enemies or people stuck under debris. It’s all part of a vast expansion in military technology: The Pentagon now has 7,000 drones, almost all built in the past decade, and it’s asking Congress for $5 billion next year to work on more. Meanwhile, they’re posing moral conundrums in America’s relationship to war: With no US lives threatened, the drones make it easier to enter war—and can make it feel like “a video game,” military ethicists tell the Times. Check out the paper’s drone slide show here. (Read more drones stories.)