Mini Flapping Planes On Reconnaissance Missions Are Not Far Off (+VIDEO)
Bioinspiration and Biomimetics journal has recently published an interesting research conducted by scientists from the Brown University about a robotic bat wing, which might in future be used for a new generation of mini flapping planes on reconnaissance missions. Inspired by the lesser dog-faced fruit bat, the robot flaps while attached to instruments that measure the forces generated by various joints, allowing researchers to calculate the energy required to execute wing movements. Joseph Bahlman, a graduate student at the university, leading the robotic bat project reports that, “A lot of my interest in bat flight is in understanding how they fly and in particular how their wing motion influences their aerodynamic force generation.” As far as studying wing motion in live bats is difficult since they change several parameters at once depending whether they want to fly slower or faster, turn one way or another, researchers decided to build a robotic bat wing mockup that can then control the motion parameters. The results of the case-study experiment showed that by folding the robotic wing on the upstroke, as real bats do, the robot is able to increase net lift by 50 percent. To improve the design and enhance flight performance, researchers are going to test different wing materials, such as a stretchy membrane and a non-stretchy material.