Not since the prehistoric days of the pterosaur has the Earth played host to giant flying predators capable of swooping down and picking up a something the size of a car without interrupting its flight. Now, thanks to a recent development at a lab at the University of Pennsylvania, 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.
At Penn's GRASP Lab, Justin Thomas and his team have developed a flying drone that can grab an object using a single, three-fingered, 3D-printed claw. The inspiration for the invention was drawn from real flying predators such as the bald eagle. By mimicking the action of the eagle, the team managed to give the drone the ability to successfully grab and carry off an object at a speed of roughly nine body lengths per second.
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. Yes, it's all exactly as terrifying as it sounds, and you can see this future human snatcher in action in the video below.