Missing Links Waiting to happen : Robo-Bats


I believe virtually everything I read, and I think that is what makes me more of a selective human than someone who doesn’t believe anything… but until I’ve seen a video of this thing flying…

The point though is though, that it’s using memory-metal for the muscles – pass a current through it and it moves. I can remember reading about this stuff in OMNI magazine in the 70s… and thought the future had finally arrived (actually, it was only just being invented), but nothing much seems to have happened with it since. I think that finding robot muscles other than magnetic-induction type motors is fairly fundamental in moving things forward into proper sci-fi land though.

I’m not entirely convinced about this fluttery business. I think the reasons moths and bats and whatnot have wings rather than propellers is more a case of evolution designing around a physical weakness in multi-cell systems than one being more efficient than the other… I mean, which looks more stable to you, this:


or this


Ok – about the same, but the flapping to me looks like a it’s basically two propellers doing two back and forth semi-circles rather than a full rotation… and I suspect very strongly that the reason it’s filmed in slo-mo is that at normal speeds, they only managed to get seconds of stable flight at a time. There are a lot of flutterbots on youtube, and they look as erratic as hell.

I suspect that stability basically comes down to smarts… as you’ll know if you’ve ever watched wasps raiding bee-hives… bees bumble about and crash all over the place* while wasps can zoom straight through really narrow gaps – and they’re basically the same hardware.

Still… tiny muscles are to robots what light-gates are to computers. Maybe.

* Christ on a bike, how much time must people have on their hands to dub a scream over a bee crash?