With the new vampire bat robot designed to walk and fly, using both modes of motion in a very complex way, we got one step closer to reaching new milestones. The robot technology evolves at a tremendous speed, but there are still many milestones to be passed.
The DALER – Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot – is a very innovative device. Its creators, a team of researchers from the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics division in Switzerland, developed the drone as a way of helping rescue teams in dangerous natural catastrophes.
The inspiration? Vampire bats. Let me explain how that works.
By creating the DALER with the ability to fly, but also walk (which is basically how a vampire bat travels), experts enabled it to assist in locating and reaching disaster victims during difficult rescue situations. Following its inspiration, the bat, the DALER can rearrange its components from flying mode to walking, if necessary. I say rearrange, because the drone uses its wings even when in walking mode, contracting them in order to use them as walking “legs”. The designers created the wings from a flexible skin which folds easily and quickly, retracting the wings and shifting into walking mode when the situation requires the robot’s help on the ground.
The main innovation of the DALER is the fact that it can assess the situation from the air, conducting a complete evaluation of any rescue efforts. Not only can it assess, but also assist, by landing and actually rescuing the victims, or helping the ground teams.
Even though the DALER can also walk, its main function is to fly. Therefore, the wings were the first priority in designing. The robot is not yet completely functional, but it serves as yet another example of how useful it is to create new devices by using nature’s finest designs: animals. Some of the best technological inventions were inspired by animals, where nature and robotics merge together human ingenuity and unique skills of cheetah or snakes, for example.
Since flying is what the DALER know best, the walking mode still needs some improvement. In flight, the robot can reach the maximum speed of 20m/s, and on the ground–6cm/s. It may not be a very impressive speed, but it will bring an immense help on rescue sites where other devices and machines cannot reach in time, or some, not at all.
Image Source: Ubergizmo