Micro Air Vehicles at Eglin

Real fighter jets take a back seat to tiny miniature airplanes during an international micro air vehicle competition at Eglin Air Force Base at Ft. Walton Beach.

Eight teams from North America and Europe bring miniature airplanes that could be no longer than 17 inches and weigh no more than one pound. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and Eglin's Munitions Directorate organizes the competition.

The tiny airplanes at the competition are guided by GPS receivers. Their sensors are video cameras.

Each team is graded on their vehicle's ability to find three waypoints and identify a distinguishing mark on each, hitting targets with paint balls, and take-offs and landings.

The chief scientist for Eglin's munitions directorate says the microplanes could be key to military surveillance, but he also imagines civilian uses.

For example, if a train derails and spills chemicals, an MAV could determine what's leaking from where.