Predator drones--unmannned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are basically fixed wing aircraft sans pilots, but micro-sized versions don't work as well. To the rescue are bat-like micro-aerial vehicles from researchers at North Carolina State University. By mimicking the bat's maneuverability in tight spaces, these MAVs could herald a new era of unmanned surveillance as well as search-and-rescue robots. R.C.J.
The North Carolina State University researchers developed bat-like skeletal and muscular systems that allowed the robobats to weigh in at a diminutive 6 grams. The are currently fabricating joints, muscular system and wing membranes to allow it to fly by flapping like real bats. The metal muscles respond to heat from an electric current which makes them contract. Because the contraction also changes their electrical resistance, the microprocessor will be able to use the resistance as feedback to adapt to changing conditions like a gust of wind.