We generally say ‘blind as a bat’ but a recent study reveals that the flying techniques of a bat can improve the drone technology. Researchers observed trained bats as they flew through thin smoke in a wind tunnel while trying to reach food attached to a stick. Bats do some incredible aerial stunts. A bat, when it takes swift turns mid-air, can perch for hours. This natural ability of the bat saves energy and when it is time to fly, they only need to let go and flap their wings.
Alireza Ramezani, an assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Northeastern University, observed this unique feature of the bats and came up with an idea to design drones that can mimic these complex aerobatics and save energy. The landing technique of bat is similar to a flip turn in freestyle swimming. It pulls one of its wings in, catapulting its weight upwards and turns out the belly. Alireza Ramezani studied this locomotive activity of bat while landing and designed a robotic mechanism. The robotic structure and landing is similar to the bat. This system, named Harpoon, can be used in drones that can give improved vision of drones. Presently, drones consume a lot of energy to sustain long flights and it works poorly in conditions involving strong winds and tight spaces.
Bats are the only mammal that can fly; it just hangs upside down all the time. The reason for this is that bats are too heavy for lift-off. They usually drop from above-using gravity, unlike birds and insects that can fly fighting gravity. Due to this, bats have the most efficient take off in the animal kingdom. Due to the distinctive feature of landing. Ramezaniis now working on an improved version of drone with advanced flying techniques that will be similar to bats shape and movements.
Alireza Ramezani says, “Think about quadcopters, which you cannot really operate in the proximity of humans. That’s because their rotary beam systems are not really safe.” The new system will be packed with soft, durable materials such as silicon and carbon fibre. This kind of robot will not pose harm if it accidentally strikes a person.
Alireza wants to use biomimicry to make a drone that handles itself in the air. The movement of the drone involves sharp turns, flying through tight and cluttered spaces, and managing to perch upside down, the way bats do. He initially started making drones that could fly in the construction zone areas to prevent incidents like fire. Now, aerial drones can fly safely in residential areas as well.