Usually abbreviated MAV
As defined by the DARPA standard for MAV development, any air vehicle with a total footprint area of 0.25 sq ft or less.
As of Sept 2002, MAV technology includes traditional fixed wing planes, rotorcraft, and flapping wing vehicles. The majority of research in MAVs takes place at the university level. There are some privately funded projects throughout the world, but most of the substantial development to date has been done in academia.
Primary uses for MAV technology include surveillance, traffic monitoring, and military intelligence. MAVs are particularly useful for surveillance due to their small size, radar profile, and acoustic profile. MAVs can fly into a small space, land, and deploy audio and/or video recording hardware. The recordings can easily be stored onboard or transmitted to a nearby receiver for further use.
In addition to their benefits as monitoring hardware, MAVs are typically inexpensive and expendable when compared to their alternatives. Production costs for rotary wing MAVs can be as low as $2000. When compared to a similarly equipped traffic helicopter, which may cost as much as $500,000, this price is substantially lower. Traffic helicopters also require human pilots, which require additional safety systems and limit the mobility of the vehicle. An MAV can fly into an area that would be toxic to a human pilot.