Jun 16, 2019 | Updated: 11:54 AM EDT

Bat-Like Bot May Soon Fly Its Way Into Space—The New Drone Frontier

Jan 26, 2015 10:13 PM EST

(Photo : Ludovic Daler)

The future of transformer-like technology is here, with a new bat-like robot that can crawl around on all fours, as well as fly away.  The DALER, otherwise known as the Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot, is officially here, and it shares a stunning resemblance to its  inspiration -- the vampire bat. 

While this robot doesn't exactly land like a bat or hang itself upside-down, that isn't what the groups at LIS, EPFL, and NCCR Robotics is trying to accomplish.

Instead, this robot utilizes the foldable skeletons like a bat and even utilizes soft fabric covering to emulate important parts of its anatomy, allowing it to walk and easily take flight while remaining very light.  The DALER robot shows remarkable adaptability, as well with wings, which can be folded in order for it to enter very tight spaces.

Ludovic Daler of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the Lausanne, Switzerland-based EPFL, says that the robot has certainly perfected the art of using all four limbs for two purposes - walking and flying.

"The DALER can be remotely deployed to fly to an affected area, and then can walk through a disaster zone to locate victims, meaning that human rescue teams can concentrate their efforts where they are needed, rather than using time to search for victims in a dangerous environment" project leader, Daler says. "The robot's design is inspired by the common vampire bat Desmodus rotundus, which can perform aerial and terrestrial locomotion with limited trade-offs. Wings' adaptive morphology allows the robot to modify the shape of its body in order to increase its efficiency during terrestrial locomotion."

It is needless to say that the drone looks impressive from all aspects. "The other appeal of ground mobility is that it gives a winged robot the capability to land, reorient itself, and then take off again," says Evan Ackerman from IEEE Spectrum.

But the biggest attraction of the drone is that it has been touted as being incredibly durable. "Future development of the DALER will include the possibility to hover and to take off autonomously from the ground in order to allow the robot to return to the air and come back to base after the mission," Daler says.

The robot won't win any races, with its ability to fly at 20 meters per second and crawl at 6 centimeters per second, but it could take part in natural disaster rescue missions or even missions into space. And this isn't the first time engineers have drawn inspiration from the animal kingdom for their designs.  Cheetahs and snakes have also been used in the past, as engineers work to design robots with more utility. 

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