Researchers from Centro de Automática y Robótica (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid) and from Brown University carried out a very deep research about the specific behavior of bat flight, whose ultimate goal is to replicate the capabilities of bat’s wings by means of an ad-hoc designed micro aerial vehicle (MAV).
From the home page of the project:
[...] 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.
A lot of research work has already been carried out (see here for a list of publications) and a bat-like MAV prototype has been designed and implemented to both evaluate and validate the research outcomes. Among the other stuff, the core onboard electronic is made up of an arduino-based board, an IMU, a radio transceiver and a rechargeable LiPo battery.
More details on this project can be found here.
[Via: BaTboT project homepage]