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Army Sponsoring Bat-Like 6-inch Solar Spy Plane

bat wideshot  Army Sponsoring Bat-Like 6-inch Solar Spy Plane

com-bat

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A six-inch robotic spy plane modeled after a bat would gather data from sights, sounds and smells in urban combat zones and transmit information back to a soldier in real time.

That’s the Army’s concept, and it has awarded the University of Michigan College of Engineering a five-year, $10-million grant to help make it happen. The grant establishes the U-M Center for Objective Microelectronics and Biomimetic Advanced Technology, called COM-BAT for short. The grant includes an option to renew for an additional five years and $12.5 million.

Miniaturizing the various systems of “the bat” and making them more energy efficient are big challenges for the groups working on COM-BAT. The tiny plane must be able to collect large amounts of surveillance data and travel great distances while running on 1 W of power. But COM-BAT is ambitious and they fully anticipate being able to shrink all the systems. For example “They expect their autonomous navigation system, which would allow the robot to direct its own movements, to be 1,000 times smaller and more energy efficient than systems being used now.”

Source:   University of Michigan

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