Known as COM-BAT, This is a tiny flying robot, about six inches long, that would fly like a bat, gathering information primarily, it is claimed, in urban combat zones. Among other things, it will be able to detect sights, sounds, and smells.
Low-power miniaturized radar and a very sensitive navigation system would help the bat find its way at night. Energy scavenging from solar, wind, vibration and other sources would recharge the bat’s lithium battery. The aircraft would use radio to send signals back to troops.
“These are all concepts, and many of them are the next generation of devices we have already developed. We’re trying to push the edge of our technologies to achieve functionality that was not possible before,” said Kamal Sarabandi, the COM-BAT director and a professor in the U-M Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
COM-BAT also involves the University of California at Berkeley and the University of New Mexico. It is one of four centers the Army launched as a collaborative effort among industry, academia and the Army Research Laboratory to work toward this vision of a small, robotic aircraft that could sense and communicate. Each of the four centers is charged with developing a different subsystem of the bat, a self-directed sensor inspired by the real thing.