Ever play with maple seeds? They have a flat, blade-like tail. When they fall, the tail creates lift, generating spin, and the seed floats to the ground quite some distance from the tree.
They were fun to play with when I was a kid. Throw them in the air and they slowly spin to the ground like helicopter in auto-rotation.
Lockheed Martin has developed drones based on the same concept. A small propeller on the end of the tail creates a controllable, rapid spin which allows the drone to fly. A fixed camera on the drone is synchronized to the spin to produce a very stable view from the drone.
Check out this video:
The drone could be scaled down to a small size for recon.
How could you use it? Imagine the police throwing one in the window during a hostage situation, an infantry squad flying one over the hill as they advance, or paparazzi hovering one outside the window of a star.
The drone can be scaled up to carry a payload.
For what purpose? How about more or better sensors, such as IR or radar. How about a deployable microphone or camera you drop off someplace you can’t otherwise reach? How about a hand grenade, incendiary device or cluster bomblet?
Picture anyone on the planet, such as terrorists, drug runners, revolutionaries, counter-revolutionaries, demonstrators, counter-demonstrators or your estranged spouse getting access to such a drone anytime they want.
Ponder the military and privacy issues.
Walter Russell Mead has done a bit of pondering in his post, Attack of the Micro-Drones.