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CIA reveals robot catfish and dragonfly spies

Posted by Steve Busti The photo above is not of a real catfish: believe it or not, it’s actually a robotic Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (or UUV) called Charlie and it was developed by the CIA. Containing a pressurized hull, Charlie was able to spy and collect data using complex ballast, communication and propulsion systems. And you thought this kind of stuff only happened in the movies… ******************************************************************* It’s the sort of idea that would be laughed out of any plot for a spy film: Secret agents using a radio-controlled robot catfish to swim up to their enemies and collect information. Yet, unbelievably, the Central Intelligence Agency dreamed up such a device in the Seventies, called Charlie – and has now revealed it and other stranger-than-fiction gadgets on a new website. The agency simultaneously launched a website and pages on YouTube and Flickr last week, revealing the sorts of equipment that would leave James Bond’s Q Branch green with envy.

Dragonfly spy: Another device from the Office of Research and Development (wow, what were those guys on?) is the ‘Insectothopter’. This Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is the grandfather of the modern-day drone

The agency says the sites allow visitors to ‘find new ways to connect to a broad array of Agency content’. The YouTube channel ( has a range of unintentionally amusing ‘tours’ and potted histories of the spy agency. But by far and away the most intriguing is its Flickr stream (, which shows off some of the weird and wonderful gadgets employed since the Second World War.

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