Hopefully after 10 million dollars from the US military the University of Michigan School of Engineering can turn this steel winged flappy spy bat into a reality. The COM-BAT will run on solar, wind, and vibrational energy and will be outfitted with sensors and cameras to send info back to its controllers.
Michigan’s Center for Objective Microelectronics and Biomimetic Advanced Technology, or COM-BAT, has been tasked with building a surveillance device to assist soldiers in real combat. The hope is to create a tool that has stereo vision and hearing capabilities to isolate threats, radiation and toxin sensors, and a communications system to send back to base.
All this, along with a radar for night navigation and rechargeable lithium battery, into a few ounce robotic bat machine. The flapping wing design allows the craft to generate lift at low speeds, with hopefully less energy than a rotary winged design such as a helicopter.
U-M researchers intend to improve on current technologies. They'll work to develop quantum dot solar cells that double the efficiency of current cells. They expect their autonomous navigation system, which would allow the robot to direct its own movements, to be 1,000 times smaller and more energy efficient than systems being used now. They believe they can deliver a communication system that's 10 times smaller, lighter and more energy efficient than today's technologies.
If the UM scientists and graduate students perform well they have the opportunity to receive another 12.5 million dollars after five years work.