Feeds

US Army funds $10m bat-droid

Make it up you could not

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The University of Michigan (UM) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded $10m by the US Army to carry out research leading to a "six-inch robotic spy plane modelled after a bat", which would "gather data from sights, sounds and" - worryingly - "smells".

U-Michigan concept of 'the bat' robogargothopter

'The bat' robo-gargo-thopter concept.

The university has used the army cash to found a Centre for Objective Microelectronics and Biomimetic Advanced Technology, or COM-BAT - a clear case of Media Targeted Acronym Related Titling, or Media-TART syndrome.

According to the uni press release:

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".

How original.

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 scavenging from solar, wind, vibration and other sources [blood of living victims? Hanging upside down from power cables?] would recharge the bat's lithium battery. The aircraft would use radio to send signals back to troops.

And that's not all. It seems "the bat" might "perch at a street corner or building for longer assignments and send back reports of activity" - a capability which might be referred to, we suggest, as "gargoyle mode".

The COM-BAT guys have also produced this concept pic of "the bat" in action, which seems to suggest that the droid spybird will not be a boring old plane, helicopter, ducted-fan saucer/dalek/imperial-probe job or anything so conventional. Rather, the UM team seems to feel that robo-ornithopter is the natural way to go. (Though they don't have to make good on that; they aren't doing the propulsion.)

One might ask whether the US Army really truly needs another spyfly, cool as the notion of a vibration-harvesting ornithopter gargoyle bat-bot might be. But in fact this seems to be more in the nature of research seed money, rather than a real system. The UM crowd hopes to use the military cash to develop super-efficient "quantum dot solar cells", extra-accurate navigation modules, miniaturised sensor tech, etc.

Which is all nice to have. If not quite as nice as a bat-format robogargothopter. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.