Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs.

Vanessa Alarcon saw them while working at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Square last month.

“I heard someone say, ‘Oh my god, look at those,’ ” the college senior from New York recalled. “I look up and I’m like, ‘What the hell is that?’ They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects.”

Robotic fliers have been used by the military since World War II, but in the past decade their numbers and level of sophistication have increased enormously. Gallery
DragonSpies
Robotic fliers have been used by the military since World War II, but in the past decade their numbers and level of sophistication have increased enormously.

Out in the crowd, Bernard Crane saw them, too.

“I’d never seen anything like it in my life,” the Washington lawyer said. “They were large for dragonflies. I thought, ‘Is that mechanical, or is that alive?’ ”

That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York. Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security.

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