Robo-Bat Has Shape Memory Alloy Joints

A robo-bat with shape memory alloy jointed limbs and smart material alloy muscles is being built by North Carolina State University researchers.

Gheorghe Bunget, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering at NC State, and his advisor Dr. Stefan Seelecke looked to nature [for inspiration]. "We are trying to mimic nature as closely as possible," Seelecke says, "because it is very efficient. And, at the MAV scale, nature tells us that flapping flight like that of the bat is the most effective."

According to the NC State press release, the fully assembled robotic 'bat' skeleton rests easily in the palm of your hand and, at less than 6 grams, feels as light as a feather.


(Robo-bat with shape memory alloy joints)

The research team is using a special shape memory alloy that is super-elastic for the joints of the robo-bat. The material offers a full range of motion, but always returns to its original gliding position. Smart materials are also being used for the 'muscles' on the robotic bat. Seelecke explains:

"We're using an alloy that responds to the heat from an electric current. That heat actuates micro-scale wires the size of a human hair, making them contract like 'metal muscles.' During the contraction, the powerful muscle wires also change their electric resistance, which can be easily measured, thus providing simultaneous action and sensory input. This dual functionality will help cut down on the robo-bat's weight, and allow the robot to respond quickly to changing conditions such as a gust of wind as perfectly as a real bat."

It's interesting that science fiction writers also chose to mimic nature in the earliest descriptions of robotic micro air vehicles - MAVs. I was thinking in particular about the extraordinary Scarab flying insect robot from Raymond Z. Gallun's The Scarab, published in Astounding Stories magazine in 1936.

The Scarab rubbed its hind legs together, as flies will do when at rest. Then, apparently satisfied that it was in condition, it unfolded the coleoptera-like plates over its wings. With a buzz that any uninformed person would have mistaken for that of a beetle, it started out on its journey.
(Read more about the scarab flying insect robot)

For a different take on the idea of a robotic bat by a different research team, take a look at the COM-BAT Robotic 'Bat' On Order From UM . The development process for this tiny MAV emphasizes the senses of a robotic bat.

Update: 21-Oct-2016: The first time I read about the idea of a shape memory alloy was in Samuel R. Delany's 1966 novel Babel-17; see the entry for tensile memory polarized matter. End update.

From Robo-Bats With Metal Muscles May Be Next Generation of Remote Control Flyers (press release) via Physorg.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/8/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Surveillance ")

Students Surveilled By School Phone Apps
Cheer up, students. '...cracking my SchoolBook had been easy.' - Cory Doctorow, 2008.

DoD Requests AI Drone Swarm
'She saw into two glassy mechanical lenses, something with a tubelike body...' - Philip K. Dick, 1960.

Chinese Steal American Seeds From Our Fields
'The Iszic maintain a jealously guarded monopoly...'

Zephyr Solar-Electric Stratospheric Drone
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...' - EB White, 1950.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Cruise Autonomous Car Drives Aimlessly For An Hour
Convincing video shows progress (and limitations).

Fast Charging A Bus In 20 Seconds
'... in almost every town and village.'

Realistic Translation With The Waverly Labs Ambassador
'The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.'

Biotech Firms Raised $Millions For Anti-Agathics (Longevity Drugs)
'Against Death doth no simple grow.'

Out-Of-Work Blue Collar Robots Need Your Help
'His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist... and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...'

The Dawn Of Orbiting Manufacturing In 2020?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories.'

Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.'

Segway S-Pod Fulfills Dire 1928 SciFi Prophecy
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'

Airbnb Has AI Psychiatrist Looking At Your Facebook
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test.'

NASA's Electric Motor Scooter
'...all the [lunar] prospectors took bicycles along as a matter of course'

Moving Suns To Different Galactic Neighborhoods
'...to swerve their star from its course, the globemen made use of a simple physical principle.'

Students Surveilled By School Phone Apps
Cheer up, students. '...cracking my SchoolBook had been easy.'

Massage Robot Has Soft Hands, Er, Pads
'The automatic massager began to fumble gently over my naked form.'

Medical Tattoos Are STILL Being Researched
'Following the current craze, she has had a subdermal pattern of micro-channels implanted.'

Elon Musk's Traffic Tunnel Challenge Is Boring
'The car vibrated... threading the maze of local tubes.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.