There’s now a vampire bat robot that can walk and fly on its own

An inspiration.
An inspiration.
Image: AP Photo/Mario Quadros
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It’s the robot the world deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Scientists from Switzerland have built an autonomous robot that can walk and fly on the same appendages, much like the vampire bat.

The robot, called DALER (Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot), has moveable tips at the end of its wings, which allow it to crawl along the ground, the IEEE reports. DALER is covered in a malleable fabric that allow its wings to fold up while it’s walking. While DALER is pretty swift in the air—it’s capable of flying at speeds up to about 40 mph—it’s much slower on the ground, moving at under 1 mph. This means it won’t get very far when walking, but its creator, Ludovic Daler, sees DALER being most useful in search-and-rescue missions. DALER could fly into disaster zones, land and locate injured victims, without having to put any other lives at stake in the search.

The robot’s odd gait is based on the vampire bat, which Daler says, “doesn’t look very pretty when it walks, but it has certainly perfected the art of using all four limbs for two purposes.”

The U.S. Naval Research Lab is also looking into bat-flight based robots, but it seems like they could look elsewhere for inspiration: