Does the World Really Need an Autonomous Flying Bat Robot?

Short answer: Yes. For science.

By The Editors
February 2, 2017 9:00 am

While the general public continues to obsess over drones, three engineers have built an odd flying machine that may only excite them and them alone: an autonomous flying bat robot.

Otherwise known as Bat Bot, the life-like 93 gram silicone-winged bat was created by Caltech associate professor Soon-Jo Chung and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Seth Hutchinson and postdoctoral research associate Alireza Ramezani.

Apart from the implicit motive of assisting Dracula with global tyranny, Chung believes this design “will help us build safer and more efficient flying robots, and also give us more insight into the way bats fly.”

That quadcopter you’ve got with four spinning blades? It’s actually both more dangerous and fragile than a 3.2 ounce bat with stretchy wings.

After watching their video demonstration above, you’ll see the current model has a top flight distance of a little less than 100 feet. While that’s downright lousy compared to drones, the onboard computer and sensors mean the flying and navigation are completely autonomous.

Combine that with seamless turning and sharp dives that mimic the way bats take down their prey, and you’ve got a feat of engineering worth obsessing over.

You can read their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Science Robotics.

Meanwhile, we’ll be making sure news doesn’t reach Transylvania.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.