Bats are compact, efficient and lightweight flying mammals, making them an ideal inspiration for a flapping robot, called a Bat Bot. This flying robot, created by researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Coordinated Science Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, is a high-tech flying machine inspired by bats.

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Biomimicry is the term used to describe the result of engineers and scientists creating a machine inspired by nature. As an unmanned flying machine, the Bat Bot is technically a drone, although it doesn’t rely on spinning rotors like a helicopter or a rigidly fixed wing, like a plane. The three-ounce robot travels with a flapping motion, the membrane of its thin wings carrying it through the air like an actual bat.

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What practical applications might exist for this ‘animal?’ With its size and flexibility, a future Bat Bot might fly inside collapsed buildings, maneuvering around fresh ruins to inspect damage and search for people trapped inside.

Before any of that can happen, though, Bat Bot needs to figure out how to land cleanly and consistently. A future goal is to have the robot perch like a bat, clinging in place, but that kind of precision landing has yet to be attained.

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