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Robot Walks, Flies Like a Vampire Bat

Jan 24, 2015 12:01 PM EST
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A newly developed robot walks and flies like a vampire bat, adept on both land and in the air, making this new animal-inspired technology advantageous for certain multi-terrain missions in the future.

The robot is described in a paper published in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

Flying robots in the past have had issues when walking and trying to navigate in smaller areas due to their expansive wings. But researchers have solved that problem with DALER (Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot), developed at the Swiss research institute EPFL.

This drone was designed with foldable wings that, when extended, give it agility in the air, but when retracted, allow it to amble across the ground, just like a bat.

The design's ingenuity is all thanks to the common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, which has perfected the art of using all four of its limbs for dual purposes.

When flying, DALER can soar at about 20 meters per second. However, it's not so swift on the ground, ambling along at a mere six centimeters per second. Even though it may not be the most efficient walking robot out there, the fact that it can both walk and fly gives it some major advantages compared to other robots out there.

Researchers hope that the DALER robot can become useful during missions that are otherwise inaccessible for humans. For example, helping during a natural disaster.

"The DALER can be remotely deployed to fly to an affected area, and then can walk through a disaster zone (e.g. a damaged building) to locate victims, meaning that human rescue teams can concentrate their efforts where they are needed, rather than using time to search for victims in a dangerous environment," the research team said in a press release.

Not to mention that DALER is also incredibly durable. In a video, a researcher is shown hitting the wings with a hammer to no effect.

This goes to show that nature, in this case vampire bats, can inspire new and better technologies. At least with DALER, you don't have to worry about it sucking your blood.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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