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Bat Studies to Aid Roving Robots


fruit bat wearing backpack

The backpack strapped to an adult Egyptian fruit bat helps researchers pick up the subtleties of bat echo-location.

Credit: BBC News

Researchers at the University of Southampton, Leeds University, and the University of Strathclyde are studying the use of ultrasonic transducers that can be used in small robotic vehicles, which could go to places that are too dangerous for humans. To develop the transducers, the researchers are examining the physiology of echo-locators, particularly bats, and how they structure the sounds they emit to help them navigate. "We're currently looking to apply these methods to positioning of robotic vehicles, which are used for structural testing," says Strathclyde's Simon Whiteley.

The robots could use echo-location to spot cracks in the walls of reactors or containment vessels. The researchers also found that overlapping signals enable bats to spot objects that are smaller than the wavelengths of the sounds they produce. Researchers are studying this phenomenon further to see how it can help improve the resolution of sound-based imaging systems.

By adapting the sound signals that give bats clues about the texture of an object, researchers could make medical ultrasound systems more sensitive and able to distinguish different tissue types beneath the skin.

From BBC News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2010 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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