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BATMAV is a bioinspired bat-like flapping platform in prototype stage. By using smart materials like Shape Memory Alloys it is possible to mimic the highly maneuverable bat wings. Studying the kinematics of flapping motion of the bat wing from the engineering prospective the flapping trajectories were decomposed getting the motion of the arm, of the forearm, as well as the motion of the finger part of the bat wings. Therefore, the overall objective of the BATMAV project is to develop a biologically inspired bat-like MAV with flexible and foldable wings for flapping flight.

Due to the availability of small sensors, Micro-Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) can be used for detection missions of biological, chemical and nuclear agents. Traditionally these devices used fixed or rotary wings, actuated with electric DC motortransmission, a system which brings the disadvantage of a heavier platform.   A thorough analysis of the flight physics for small birds, bats and large insects, revealed that the mammalian flight anatomy represents a suitable flight platform that can be actuated efficiently using Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) artificial-muscles. A previous study of the flight styles in bats based on the data collected by Professor Ulla Norberg helped to identify the required joint angles as relevant degrees of freedom for wing actuation. Using the engineering theory of robotic manipulators, engineering kinematic models of wings with 2 and 3-DOFs were designed to mimic the wing trajectories of the natural flier Plecotus auritus.


YouTube Video

 Figure 2: Flapping cycle in slow motion, frontal view right wing without membrane.
Solid models of the bat-like skeleton were designed based on the linear and angular dimensions resulted from the kinematic models. This structure of the flight platform was fabricated using rapid prototyping technologies and assembled to form a desktop prototype with 2-DOFs wings. Preliminary flapping test showed suitable trajectories for wrist and wingtip that mimic the flapping cycle of the natural flyer.



Figure3: Dual Role of Shape Memory Alloy wires:
  1. Wing actuation similar to biological muscles - 50 microns thermally activated SMA wires
  2. Superelastic joints providing the bias force for the mechanical SMA muscles

Second Generation
This platform features an elastomer membrane attached to the wing and ongoing research is done in order to improve its aerodynamic properties and to closely mimic the wing skin-membrane of the natural flier. This video presents the very preliminary results of our new platform.