Researchers at Brown University have developed a robotic bat wing that provides valuable new information about dynamics of flapping flight in real bats. The robot, which mimics the wing shape and motion of the lesser dog-faced fruit bat, is designed to flap while attached to a force transducer in a wind tunnel.
As the lifelike wing flaps, the force transducer records the aerodynamic forces generated by the moving wing. By measuring the power output of the three servo motors that control the robot’s seven movable joints, researchers can evaluate the energy required to execute wing movements.
Testing showed the robot can match the basic flight parameters of bats, producing enough thrust to overcome drag and enough lift to carry the weight of the model species.
The strong, flapping flight of bats offers great possibilities for the design of small aircraft, among other applications.