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Project to develop bat-like sonar for robotic systems [Print to PDF] [Print to RTF]

A new EU-funded project will delve into the mysteries of bat sonar. Building on the findings of the CIRCE (Chiroptera Inspired Robotic Cephaloid) and the CILIA (Customized Intelligent Life-Inspired Arrays) projects, the ChiRoPing project will attempt to develop two biomimetic ...
Project to develop bat-like sonar for robotic systems
A new EU-funded project will delve into the mysteries of bat sonar. Building on the findings of the CIRCE (Chiroptera Inspired Robotic Cephaloid) and the CILIA (Customized Intelligent Life-Inspired Arrays) projects, the ChiRoPing project will attempt to develop two biomimetic models of bats, using reverse engineering.

Ultimately, the aim is to find a way to engineer versatile and robust systems that are 'able to respond sensibly to challenges not precisely specified in their design', the project partners explain. A sonar component to these systems could complement vision and make it possible to use them in situations where vision is limited or they have to operate blind.

The two models, to be designed by roboticists and bat ethologists in close cooperation, will be based on the common big-eared bat (Micronycteris microtis) and the long-legged bat (Macrophyllum macrophyllum), two bat species indigenous to South and Central America, as well as Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentonii), a bat species found throughout Europe, but also as far as Japan and Korea, and a member of the Bulldog or Fisherman bat family (Noctilio lepornius).

The researchers chose bats for inspiration because 'their astounding diversity of diet and habitat attests to their success in integrating morphological, acoustic and behavioural parameters to enable robust and versatile hunting behaviours - the bat equivalent of tangible object handling'.

Before actually starting the engineering part of the project, however, the scientists will have to identify and measure the relevant acoustic and morphological parameters of the bat species in question and reconstruct the 'bat's acoustic experience as it flies through natural hunting tasks'. So far, little is known about exactly how bats use their skills to make acoustic, behavioural or morphological choices when hunting in their varied habitats.

On the basis of the data gathered, the project partners plan to create computational models of how bats coordinate their choices, and later implement robotic systems which will be evaluated from an engineering standpoint as well as a biological point of view.

However, the ChiRoPing researchers will not have to start from scratch as the CIRCE project already developed and constructed a bionic bat head, consisting of an emission/reception system capable of generating and processing bat vocalisations in real-time. The head, which will be used in the framework of the new project, will help to systematically investigate how the world is not just perceived, but actively explored by the animals.

The ChiRoPing project is set to start on 1 February. It will receive ¿2.5 million in funding from the EU under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and bring together four partner universities from Denmark, Belgium, the UK and Germany.
Source: ChiRoPing Project

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Record Number: 28915 / Last updated on: 2008-01-03
Category: Project
Provider: EC