Holy Flying Robots Batman! Someone get Mark Bezos from Amazon on the phone. Scientists have discovered the process of how fruit bats fly, specifically the structure and movement of bat flight. Because of this, researchers believe it is not a very far jump to adapting that technique and designing small robots that can fly. Once again, the animal kingdom continues to teach mankind.
To illustrate how science can eventually impact daily life, Jeff Bezos, chairman of the mega online retailer Amazon, announced that his company would be delivering products by drone like “octo-copters” in the not too distant future. These he described as “smart,” whirring sky robots that can literally deliver a book or other product to consumers doorsteps and then fly back to an Amazon distribution center. The range would be 10 miles and they could carry up to five pounds of cargo. No doubt Amazon will be drawn to this new bat research. Maybe their octo-copters will become “bat cabs.”
In a nutshell, what is intriguing about this new research into bats is that scientists have apparently learned how bats can alter how their wings move in order to increase the force of their wings while flapping. It would seem that bats have the ability to increase their wing area by some 30 percent to make conditions more positive when flying down. Fruit bats can do the same when soaring up.
According to Danesh Tafti, a Virginia Tech professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who is involved in the research, a the fruit bat distorts its wing shape and size continuously during flapping. The force produced by the wings of bats are about two to three times greater than a static airfoil wing used for large airplanes, the study says. Bottom line: the bat’s impressive ability to control the force of its wings could open doors for creating miniature flying vehicles.
The animal kingdom has provided scientists with many exciting discoveries over the years. In fact, it could be said that the animal kingdom continues to teach mankind and it does so very well.
Over the years, scientists and researchers have learned much from the animal kingdom. The physical activity of living creatures has been well studied as have the organisms themselves for breakthroughs that will aid mankind in the long run.
Wheat are some of the other ways the animal kingdom has taught mankind? Consider some of these examples of the ways that the animal kingdom continues to teach mankind.
Germs have been the bane of doctors’ existences for many years. Some 100,000 persons die each year because of infections they get in hospitals. Turns out Sharks can help. They have a micro coating which repels foreign substances. Research has developed products like shark skin that will repel germs.
Horntail wasps have two giant needles at the base of their bodies which have a zipper like technology to accomplish tasks. Essentially they are drill bits, and not stingers, and horntail wasps use these ‘drills’ to deposit their young into trees from almost any angle without much effort. Researchers are borrowing from the horntail wasp and developing a saw similar to the wasp needle which will be more effective in digging on extra-terrestrial surfaces that have no gravity.
Finally, the large bill of the exotic bird the toucan has always seamed like it would keep the bird constantly bending over. The bill doesn’t do that. Turns out the bill of the toucan is an engineering marvel, both tough and light. After research it turns out that the heavy bone in the bill of the toucan is spaced out in a unique way so that the weight of the bill is one tenth the density of water. Researchers think they can create useful objects for mankind, like better car panels, and thus adapt the toucan technology.
There are lots of other examples of scientists borrowing and learning from certain species in nature. Today it is the fruit bat. Once again, the animal kingdom continues to teach mankind.
By Jim McCullaugh