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Technology

The Fantastic Bionic Flying Fox

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Let's just hope this robot flying fox be used for good ... (Credit: Festo) Flying foxes — also known as fruit bats — have an elastic membrane that stretches from their fingers (they also have thumbs) to their toes, making them incredibly aerodynamic and agile while flying. For the engineers at Festo, a German automation company, bats are the perfect specimen for bioinspired drones. The Bionic Flying Fox has a wingspan of more than 7 feet, is almost 3 feet long and weighs a little more than 1 pound, according Festo's website. For comparison, living, breathing flying foxes sport wingspans of up to 6 feet. The bionic bat's membrane, a knitted stretch fabric, comes together at about 45,000 points to create a honeycomb structure. Even if the membrane gets damaged, the semi-autonomous bot can still fly. It uses infrared cameras and machine learning for motion tracking and to make decisions. https://youtu.be/zDq4kjY19UU?t=9s We can now add flying foxes to the long list of animals that scientists have modeled robots and machines after, including bees, geckos, birds and spiders.

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