Saturday, June 6, 2009

US Army orders bat-shaped miniature spy plane

Spy-Bat.jpg

The US Army has a vision: combat bats. So it's commissioned several American universities to work on inventing one. The University of Michigan received $10 million from the Army to establish The Center for Objective Microelectronics and Biomimetic Advanced Technology, otherwise known as COM-BAT.

The machine that the Army's looking for will measure six inches and weigh one quarter of a pound. And it certainly has more in common with a bat than airplane: we don't know of any planes that can gather data from sounds and smells. Like all bats, "the bat," as it's called, will rely on a sophisticated echolocation system. The bat will be used on reconnaissance missions and should be able to send information back to soldiers in real time.

Will this thing really be useful? It seems about as crazy to us as this invisible radio that the Army's interested in. On the other hand, the developments that researchers make on their way to "the bat,"— for example tiny, light and long lasting batteries that can be recharged by vibration, solar, and wind power— could be useful to all of us. After researchers complete the bat, we foresee the Army commissioning "the hummingbird," followed closely by "the mosquito."

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