In the latest drone innovation news, a group of Swiss scientists at the EPFL research institution have used vampire bats as inspiration for a new drone that can work both on land and in the air.
The machine, called the DALER (Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot), is able to fly thanks to wings that can fold and extend, according to Discovery News. These wings, however, also allow the robot to walk when they retract, giving the drone the same gait that bats have.
The DALER can fly much quicker than it can walk, traveling at 20 meters per second (m/s) in the air and 6 m/s on the ground.
The research team designed the movement of the drone's wings based on how bats use the tips of their wings to move forward, similar to how their ancestors in the dinosaur age traveled, Gizmodo reported.
The robot's wings were also given a simple motor and flexible skin so that it would have a wide wingspan and narrow profile, which would all it to fly and walk well out in the field.
One potential use for the DALER is looking through areas that humans can't access, searching through disaster areas to investigate the scene, Discovery News reported.
The research team plans on making further improvements to their bat-drone, such as giving it the ability to hover and take off from the ground on its own "in order to allow the robot to return to the air and come back to base after the mission."