A six-inch robotic spy plane modeled after a bat would gather data from sights, sounds and smells in urban combat zones and transmit information back to a soldier in real time. That’s the Army’s concept, and it has awarded the University of Michigan College of Engineering a five-year, $10-million grant to help make it happen. The grant establishes the U-M Center for Objective Microelectronics and Biomimetic Advanced Technology, called COM-BAT for short. The grant includes an option to renew for an additional five years and $12.5 million.
U-M researchers will focus on the microelectronics. They will develop sensors, communication tools and batteries for this micro-aerial vehicle that’s been dubbed “the bat.” Engineers envision tiny cameras for stereo vision, an array of mini microphones that could home in on sounds from different directions, and small detectors for nuclear radiation and poisonous gases. Low-power miniaturized radar and a very sensitive navigation system would help the bat find its way at night. Energy sMIDENnging from solar, wind, vibration and other sources would recharge the bat’s lithium battery. The aircraft would use radio to send signals back to troops.
The 3D Lab was involved in providing concepts and imagery for the project and grant proposal in cooperation with Dr. Kamal Sarabandi at the RADLAB.
Original story: Sensors for bat-inspired spy plane under development