A new robot built to resemble a bat has been given the name, DALER, standing for Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot, and it has the ability to walk and fly. The bat robot has been designed and built to access different terrains, permitting it to carry out a wide range of search and rescue operations.
DALER is designed after vampire bats. Wings of the robot are built of fabric extended over a stretchy skeletal structure. This permits the limbs, known as whegs, to play the roles of both wings and legs.
Engineers hope that DALER can be utilized to fly over a territory to survey circumstances, after which the vehicle can land and stroll into zones not available to other robotic devices.
Linda Seward, of NCCR Robotics, talked about the difficulties in designing the bat robot.
“To design the robot, the group needed to first assign the primary mode of locomotion – for this case flight, as the DALER will cover the longest distances this way. The wings were then adapted for walking, contemplating the need to not include additional weight when the DALER is in flight mode.”
In 2013, Ludovic Daler of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, designed the first version of the DALER.
“While numerous dual-locomotion systems already exist, the vast majority of these just put in specialized hardware for every locomotion technique utilized, (for example, wings and wheels), adding both infrastructure and weight to the general framework, and obstructing flight performance. Rather, DALER utilizes only one structure – the wing – to both walk and fly.”
The latest version of the bat robot can fly at rates of around 45 miles per hour in the air and about 2-and-one-half inches per second on the ground. While switching between modes, wings of the vehicle have the capacity to successfully fold and unfold — a capacity not present in the previous version.
One major advantage of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can also travel on ground is that the craft can reorient itself after landing, planning for takeoff. Landing fixed-wing UAVs in numerous regions can be harsh and are often prevented from taking off after its mission is finished. Further improvement of the DALER framework could permit the craft to land, conduct reconnaissance for the ground, adjust itself for a return flight, and take off.
The concept behind the DALER is reminiscent of the idea of a “folding robot” that was developed last summer, to allow search and rescue robots to get into tight spaces such as the building rubble. A reconnaissance bat robot could get into small, cramped areas as well.
[Image via Geek Infinite]