The Fluid Mechanics Laboratory and the Swartz Lab at Brown University have done some amazing research into the behavior of bat wings in flight. Doing motion capture with high speed cameras in a wind tunnel has given them some insight into the mechanics of the bat wings. The ultimate goal is to “develop equivalently effective flapping wing vehicles.”
In collaboration with Brown University, this research is oriented towards the development of a biological inspired bat robot platform, that allows to reproduce the amazing maneuverability of these flying mammals. The highly maneuverability is achieved by reproducing the flapping and morphing capabilities of their wing-skeleton structure. This structure is composed by several joints and a membrane that generates the required lift forces to fly.
To mimmic the muscular system that moves the joints of the wing-bones, Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) NiTi wires are used as artificial-muscles. Several challenges in controlling this SMA-based actuation system are regarded in this research.