The University of Illinois and Brown University are working on a bat-drone. I’ve yet to see any evidence that the project is funded by Wayne Enterprises, but it seems likely. They’re trying to come up with an energy-efficient alternative to the traditional quad-rotor drone. The National Science Foundation has provided the funds, $2.2 Million, to replicate the flight pattern of bats.
“We mean to make a robot that can have the same advantages in terms of performance, agility, and a lifetime of flight as the biological thing.” – Steven Hutchinson, Professor at the University of Illinois.
It’s clearly early days yet, the video below includes a clip of a prototype robotic bat in flight, that seems to be ‘falling with style’ rather than actually flying. The slow motion scenes of bats in flight makes them look very graceful and co-ordinated, and I can see the appeal in making a bat-drone that flies like that. However, the last time I saw actual bats in flight they jerked, skittered and bounced across the sky like they were tweaking on too much caffeine. Not sure how they’re going to reproduce movement like that without the operator assuming it’s malfunctioning.