Scientists have created a fascinating little unmanned aircraft that flies like a bat.
Scientists have created a truly one-of-a-kind unmanned aircraft — a tiny little thing that flies like a bat.
Researchers at the University of Southampton were able to create micro air vehicles (MAVs) that use a totally different wing design inspired by the unique characteristics of a bat’s flight, according to a statement from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The wings even resemble that of a bat’s. The researchers were able to create it using computational models that mimic a bat’s flight. The reason why a bat’s wings are so unique is because it is the only mammal that can fly.
The researchers produce wings that are quite complex, made out of electrically active polymer membranes that act like muscles. The wings are flexible enough to change depending on the flying conditions by using voltages in an innovative way, changing the actual aerodynamics of the wing during flight.
“The proof of concept wing will eventually enable flight over much longer distances than currently possible,” the statement reads.
Added Dr. Rafael Palacios, who was the lead on the project: “No-one has tried to simulate the in-flight behaviour of actuated bat-like wings before, so we had to go back to fundamentals, develop the mathematical models and build the multiphysics simulation software we needed from scratch. We had to make sure it could model not only the wings themselves but also the aerodynamic flows around them and the effect of the electric field generated across them.”
As technology advances, MAVs are becoming increasingly common. They have a range of uses both for civilians and for the military. The statement notes that more and more developers are starting to base their designs on the natural world.