A lot of robot inspirations come from crabs, salamanders, kangaroos, and even insects. The researchers from Caltech University along with the University of Illinois has maintained this tradition of mimicking animal systems through robotics. They have created a robot that looks and flies just like a bat, hence named the Bat-Bot.
The robot is quite a marvel as it is capable of autonomous flight. It weighs only 3.3 ounces (93 gm). The robot revealed in the journal Science Robotics is designed by a team of three roboticists led by Soon-Jo Chung. The light and little Bat-Bot has wings made of a silicone membrane spread over a carbon-fiber skeleton. Unable to find a material stretchy enough to do the job, the researchers developed their personalized silicone-based membrane which is just 56 microns thick.
The head contains an on-board computer and sensors. Five micro-sized motors line the backbone of the robot.
In the pitch black darkness of the night, you can not observe the complex musculoskeletal system of the bat performing marvelous aerial robotics. The bat can move in about 40 rotational directions by simple twists of its joints. Of all animals, the bat is considered to have the most sophisticated, powered flight mechanism.
However, the Bat Bot is simpler than the complex flying mammal, having no fingers, knuckles or knuckle joints and also lacking the ability to twist its wrists. It still has a total of 9 joints and is regarded as quite a complex piece of machinery.
The flight of the robot is as good as the biological masterpiece. It spreads its wings in a fluid motion as it glides through the air. Unless you are a biologist, it will be hard to distinguish the mechanical difference in the movement of the two.
The marvelous piece of machinery is not even remote-controlled. The robot can perform autonomous gliding and diving through the air. However, the robot lacks the capability to ascend in air or perch upside-down, like an original bat does. The team is working on introducing such capabilities in the robot.
Why don’t we just stick to good old quadcopters? The creators of the Bat-Bot say that the flexible wings and propeller-less flight of the bat-robot will make it safer around humans.
In future, we can expect these robots to fly at the top of inspection sites.
Here is how the Bat-Bot flies.
We would appreciate your valuable feedback in the comments’ section below!