Credit: Eric Maslowski
Is it a bat? A plane? It's neither yet. Instead, it's the Army's bat-shaped innovative spy plane concept. The idea is to create a miniature spy plane resembling a bat and its use of echolocation. The spy plane would run off a lithium battery recharged by wind, solar power and even vibrations.
The concept already named COM-BAT would send back, in real time, gathered data from "sights, sounds and smells in urban combat zones". All it will take to bring it to flight is five years and a $10-million grant from the Army to the University of Michigan College of Engineering. It will be developed at University of Michigan's newly created Center for Objective Microelectronics and Biomimetic Advanced Technology (a.ka. COM-BAT).
The Army has involved four centers in all to help create this eco-robotic aircraft. "Each of the four centers is charged with developing a different subsystem of the bat, a self-directed sensor inspired by the real thing". The plan is to make this spy plane 1,000 times smaller and more energy efficient than systems being used now.
The estimated size of the plane body would be about six inches long and would weigh less than a pound. In addition it would "use about 1W of power". The spy plane would also contain features such as: cameras for stereovision, sensors, communication tools such as: radio to send signals back to troops, tiny microphones that could pick up sounds from several different locations at a time, and detectors for nuclear radiation and poisonous gases.
It would also be powered with radar and a sensitive navigation system to help it find its way through the night much like a real bat does. If they succeed, it will only be a matter of time before they create the solar-powered fly-spy. What do you think?
For more information visit University of Michigan News Service website.