Meet Bat Bot, the flying hero the world deserves

The Bat Bot, a flying robot. Pic/AP
The Bat Bot, a flying robot. Pic/AP

Washington: Holy drone, Batman! Mechanical masterminds have spawned the Bat Bot, a soaring, sweeping and diving robot that may eventually fly circles around other drones.

Because it mimics the unique and more flexible way bats fly, this 3-ounce prototype could do a better and safer job getting into disaster sites and scoping out construction zones than bulky drones with spinning rotors, said the three authors of a study released in the journal, Science Robotics. For example, it would have been ideal for going inside the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, said study co-author Seth Hutchinson, an engineering professor at the University of Illinois.

The bat robot flaps its wings for better aerial manoeuvres, glides to save energy and dive bombs when needed. Eventually, the researchers hope to have it perch upside down like the real thing, but that will have to wait for the robot's sequel. Like the fictional crime fighter Batman, the researchers turned to the flying mammal for inspiration.

"Whenever I see bats make sharp turns and perform upside down, perching with such elegant wing movements and deformations, I get mesmerized," said another author, Soon-Jo Chung, a professor of aerospace at the California Institute of Technology.

10
Times it can flap its wings/sec

$1.5mn
Cost of building the robot

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