Robotic Bat Wing
This robotic wing inspired by living bats is under development at Brown University.
(Robotic bat wing)
It doesn’t fly on its own yet – the robo-bat is still attached to a kind of arm in a wind tunnel. It does, however, mimic the wing shape and motion of the lesser dog-faced fruit bat. The robot itself is linked to a device called a force transducer, which records the amount of energy needed to move the wings and the aerodynamic forces on their structure.
Besides understanding how bats fly, data collected from experiments with the robo-bat could tell engineers how to design small robots that flap a pair of wings instead of fly with propellers or rotors.
The first place I read about this biomimetic idea was in Roger Zelazny's excellent 1980 science/fantasy novel Changeling. In the story, small, flexible-wing UAV's called 'tracer-birds' detect and ride air currents:
The dark birdforms dotted the mountaintops like statues of prehistoric beasts, wings outspread...
...they stirred, almost simultaneously, as if shaken by a sudden breeze. They began to flex their wings.
(Read more about Roger Zelazny's tracer-birds)
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