Inspired by a maple seed, Lockheed Martin's Samarai handheld vehicle flew publically for the first time this week at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference.

Weighing less than half a pound, Samarai demonstrated vertical takeoff and landing, stable hover, and on-board video streaming. While the aircraft flew a series of flights in the roughly 40 foot test area, it streamed live video from a camera that rotated around its center providing a 360 degree view without a gimbal.

Samarai is mechanically simple with only two moving parts. Because its 16 inches long and weighs less than half a pound, an operator can easily carry the vehicle in a backpack and launch it from the ground or like a boomerang. The design is scalable to meet different missions, including surveillance and reconnaissance and payload delivery.

Lockheed Martin tested the first 3-D printed Samarai last week. The vehicle was produced by "printing" successive small layers of plastic to create a single form. The printer eliminates expensive production costs, allowing engineers to quickly and affordably produce Samarai tailored to specific missions.