Robotic Bat Wing

A robotic bat wing has been developed by the researchers of Brown University. Thanks to the research, a great deal of information was gathered about the flight of bats which is quite different than of birds and insects. The role of bows, stretchiness of a bat’s skin, muscular and skeleton structure and the moves are rediscovered in this research. There is a broad archive based on the data gathered during the experiments in wind tunnels and outdoors. With the test results, it was shown that the robot wing could  overcome retarding force and carry the mass of the test model,  so effectively it was successful in replicating a bat’s flight.

With this, designing smaller aircrafts will be possible for instance. That is also why the project was funded by the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation.

This is basically a physical model of a bat’s wing with its shape and movement. The wing is attached to a force transducer. This force transducer can store the information about the aerodynamics data during a flight in a wind tunnel. Looking at the aerodynamic forces, researchers assess the energy that the wing requires to move.

The robot is 8″ long. There are three servos and seven joints on the wing. The bones are made of plastic and was made with a 3D printer. The skin is a silicone elastomeric material.

Although it is not possible to imitate a bat’s wing exactly, it is not necessary either as the current model is sufficient with its features. Experimenting with different materials for the wing is considered as the next objective by the researchers. More information is available about the research in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics. Obviously, there will be more papers about the experiment on the wing soon.

Video Credit: Breuer and Swartz Labs, Brown University.