Tiny bat mobiles could conduct air surveillance in five-years time as bat wings inspired a new generation of micro air vehicles (MAVs).
Looking at bat wings for advancing engineering is yet another innovative instance of biomimicry. Recently, the field of biomimicry has advanced enormously as more engineers turn their attention to nature for key elements in addressing human problems.
The Engineering and Physical Science Research Council announced that the bat wings inspired a new generation of micro air vehicles which are comparatively better. The new MAVs are capable of flying over longer distances. In addition, they require less maintenance and their production cost is relatively low.
The secret is embedded in the wings of the new micro air vehicles. Much like bat wings, they are membranes operated by electric impulses. While these MAVs wings may not flap, they do posses the ability to change their shape but maintain their functionality as different forces act against them.
Bats may be both eerie and awe-inspiring. The latter attribute is not only due to their echo-sonar, but to the fact that bats are basically the only mammals capable of flight. Erin Connelly with the Biomimicry Institute stated:
“Living organisms can show us how to create our materials and our products, our building and our entire cities in ways to help us fit in with life on Earth”.
This is the case bat wings, the latest successful instance of biomimicry. Tiny bat mobiles could conduct air surveillance in five-years time. This is a success story as the in-flight behavior of bat-like wings has never been studied before. As such, the scientific team behind the new micro air vehicles had to go back to the fundamentals.
Rafael Palacios, lead researcher on the project explained that the team looked at various factors relevant for a successful application. Modelling the wings inspired by bat wings wasn’t the most difficult part. It proved more difficult to pay attention to minute details such as the aerodynamic flow as well as the electric field effects on the membranes and the MAVs themselves.
A second team worked with these thorough observations to include them in a test micro air vehicle. The MAVs wings incorporate electroactive polymers responding to electric impulses. The electric field generated across the wing membrane shifts the wings’ shape. Both the wing membrane and the micro air vehicle’s aerodynamic flow can be changed as the MAV is in mid-flight.
According to the press release,the tiny bat mobiles could conduct air surveillance in five-years time.
Photo Credits: eandt.theiet.org