Bat robot takes wing

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Bat Bot, a lightweight flier with thin silicone wings stretched over a carbon fiber skeleton, can cruise, dive and bank turn just like its namesake, researchers report February 1 in Science Robotics.

Such a maneuverable machine could one day soar up the towering structures of a construction site, flying in and out of steel beams to help keep track of a building’s progress, study coauthor Seth Hutchinson, a roboticist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a news briefing January 31.

Other aerial robots, like some drones, aren’t so agile, relying on four whirling rotor blades to lift off the ground, Hutchinson said. 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.

“Bat flight is the holy grail of aerial robotics,” said study coauthor
Soon-Jo Chung, a Caltech aerospace engineer. Bats have more than 40
joints in their wings, which give the animals exquisite control over
their flight maneuvers. Chung and colleagues re-created nine of the key
joints, so their robot could flap its wings in sync, fold each wing
independently and move each of 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, Chung said.

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#and on a lighter note #bat #the more you know #the power of science #I just saw this on Daily Planet! #like five minutes ago #apparently it can’t fly if it weighs more than about 100g #it was tricky even getting it light enough that it could support its own weight #definitely not a cargo bot #(which doesn’t stop it from being useful in other ways)

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