Bats are being studied by scientists. Engineers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the California Institute of Technology have built a Bat Bot, a robotic platform which mimics live bats. It is capable of flying around and explores the environment just like a real bat would. Although flying robots exists, these are limited to basic up and down flapping motions or are powered by spinning rotors.
The recreation of the flight pattern of bats have been nearly impossible before. The complexity of the wings, aerodynamic devices that are able to bend and uses at least 40 individual joints proved to be too complex in the past. The team carefully analyzed the placement and biological design of these joints and studied the movements, joint movement patterns of the bats. Key points of articulation were replicated so as to mimic the movement of real bats.
The team also used lightweight carbon-fiber for the artificial bones of the robot. They used 3D technology to print out ball and sockets for the joints and used a silicone skin which is very durable. By using very small motors located along the spines of the robot, they were able to make the bat bot dive, hover, swoop and gracefully fly across the room.
With microsensors installed in the head of the robot, it is able to navigate semi-autonomously. The team hopes to advance the computational systems so that in the future the robot will be more independent in exploring its surroundings. Just like a real bat, the robot is able to move its wings in an asymmetrical manner giving it a more precise flying ability as reported by IFL Science.
The bat bot has the ability to fly 100 feet in a straight line by flapping its wings to propel it and create lift. Its weight is less than a quarter of a pound and it has a foot and a half wingspan. The creators of the flying robot says that by flying like a real bat, it has advantages over drones. It is safer to use in close proximity to humans because it has no spinning motors and it can maneuver in tight spaces and its wings are also energy efficient as reported by Fox News Tech.