Technicians build compact ‘vleermuizen’ sonar for robots




Engineers from Virginia Tech in the United States have a sonar system built inspired by the horseshoe bat species to be used in robots. The researchers think that ultimately make more efficient and smaller sonar.

A prototype of the system was presented Wednesday at the 169th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. The final system must offer similar precision as advanced professional sonar arrays, but with a fraction of consumption and with significantly fewer parts. The system is based on the biological echo location system of the horseshoe. The horseshoe is a family of bats hunting in densely forested areas, making the animal must use very precise and quick echolocation.

The researchers do not take things lightly. Lead researcher Rolf Mueller for several years engaged in research on bats and in particular the horseshoe to develop a good echolocation technology eventually robots. The horseshoe bat is found to have good echolocation, because the nose of the animal is almost twice as long as those of other bats. He uses that nose to target echolocation signals. The animals use the frequency-specific characteristics of different pitches by adjusting the physical properties of ears and nose. This change occurs in tenths of seconds, up to three times as fast as a human eye can blink.

Due to film the animals, and thus to capture the movements with high-speed cameras, could be carefully monitored how the bats change their ears of shape. With laser-Doppler measurements that can measure speed, could also be determined how the animals deform their nose.

The engineers built the system mimics the bat after a transmitter and two receiving channels for sound. Due to mimic some of the basic movements of the ears and the nose of the bat, the robot can determine the direction.


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