Can you imagine a robot that can jump and fly without causing any damage to objects or people gliding smoothly through the air? Well, most drones do not fly that safe and crash into people and objects. But this new flying robot wants to change and successfully mimics a bat’s mannerism and behavior.
Named as ‘Bat Bot’ (B2), it is a lightweight autonomous flying robot that weighs just 93 grams and does fancy flight tricks like a real bat. This bat bot is truly an acro‘bat’!
A team of three researchers namely Alireza Ramezani, Soon-Jo Chung, and Seth Hutchinson created this bat bot. They used thin stretchable membrane wings made of silicone instead of many distributed control actuators to perfectly match the morphological traits of bat’s flight. Its agility allows it for cruising, dive and bank turn seamlessly without hitting a snag.
In order to attain the elastic characteristics of bat skin and cover the skeleton under morphing wings, a super-thin membranous skin of 56 mm was used.
The Egyptian Fruit Bat is the real-life inspiration behind Bat Bot
Soon-Jo Chung, an aerospace engineer at Caltech and co-author of the study, says:
“Bat flight is the holy grail of aerial robotics.”
The bats’ wings have over 40 joints that give them great control over their flight movements. The researchers re-created the nine key joints of their robot so as to flutter its wings in a synchronized manner folding every wing independently and moving all its hind legs up and down.
“At 93 grams, with a wingspan of 47 centimeters, Bat Bot is roughly the size of an Egyptian fruit bat.”
Here's the 'BAT BOT' that performs aerial acrobatics just like a real bat
The study coauthor and roboticist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) ‘Seth Hutchinson’ says that this maneuverable drone can be used to track the progress of a building’s construction in future by making it fly up the towering structures and through the steel beams.
“Other aerial robots, like some drones, aren’t so agile, relying on four whirling rotor blades to lift off the ground. These bots also have trouble flying in the wind, because they can exert force in only one direction, he said. Bat Bot’s flexible wings could make it a more versatile flier.”
(Video credits: Science News)
The scientists have used an onboard computer and sensors to allow the Bat Bot with adjustment of maneuvers in midair. And it still requires a net to land; a collision can collapse its whole electronics system. Now they want the bot to make the flawless landing and enable it to perch both ways- upside down and right way up.
The researchers originally published their research results about the Bat Bot in ‘Science Robotics’.