Bat research’s high-tech impact includes better sonar communications


>>Just like humans at rush hour, bats leave
their caves in a mass exodus, at first in a great crash, and later at a trickle.>>I’ve stood out– outside of many caves when
bats came out, that’s part of my job, and in all those times that I’ve stood outside the bat caves, I’ve never seen two bats crash into each other. They come very close, but they never crash.>>How do bats do it? Mueller and graduate students are parsing the mechanics of bat echolocation to discover their secrets. He suspects the bats have dynamic capabilities,
which he demonstrates.>>Sophisticated bats speak through the nose,
not through the mouth. Around the nose, there’s a little megaphone,
and while the sound is coming out of the nose, the walls of this megaphone are in motion,
so they’re twitching all the time, and then the sound travels out, the echos come back, when the echos come back, they are received at the ears, and again, the ears are not hanging statically on the sides of the head, but again, the ears are in motion while the sound is impinging on them.>>Mueller joined other Virginia Tech researchers
in Newport News recently, so private sector leaders could do some hypothesizing of their own on how the skills of bats might apply to industry. Some bat species live in dense thickets, which they fly through at breakneck speeds without touching anything.>>Natural environments, say dense forests,
pose a big problem to human navigation, say to drones that want to fly into those. If you have a underwater sonar, and you are in a shallow water environment with a little structure on the sea floor, you encounter
just the same type of problem. The only difference is that bats can solve
it and our naval sonars cannot, yet.>>At the Newport News event, graduate student Christopher Watford demonstrated a bat-like sonar head attached to a drone. Research like this>>Will lead to much more effective solutions
that are essentially artificial, but mimic what nature has done so well over the millennia.>>The sonar heads enabled the researchers
to better understand what the bats are doing. U.S. Navy engineers are partners on the project. The result could improve communications in
the world’s oceans.>>Bats show us that these problems can be
solved.>>For Outreach and International Affairs,
this is Andrea Brunais reporting.

1 thought on “Bat research’s high-tech impact includes better sonar communications

  1. Bats sonar secrets could make for better drones. 
    http://www.rdmag.com/videos/2015/05/bats-sonar-secrets-could-make-better-drones

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