Meet the world’s newest animal robot: Bat Bot.
Researchers have successfully simulated the movement of a bat’s wings, one of the animal kingdom’s most complex motions, and turned their discovery into a self-contained autonomous robot.
The bat is made of carbon fiber bones, and the elastic properties of bat wings are simulated by a 56 micron-thick silicon sheet. The intricate movements of more than 40 wing joints found on real bats are simplified into just nine key 3D-printed joints, which keep the machine at just 93 grams, or about the weight of a deck of cards.
The bat robot represents “the holy grail of aerial robotics,” according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Caltech researchers who created it.
You can watch the bat in flight below:
The robat, if you will, performs five dominant motions seen in the flight of a living bat. It uses an on-board computer, sensors, and DC motors to power and direct its movements.
Bat Bot successfully performed straight flight for up to 30 meters, and completed turning motions and a sharp dive maneuver, similar to what a bat would perform when hunting prey.
The research team believes its autonomous robot could be used for search and rescue operations or applications in tight, urban environments.
You can read the full research paper, penned by Caltech professor and Jet Propulsion Laboratory researcher Soon-Jo Chung, in Science Robotics.