Bats sonar techniques could hone robots navigation skills

November 17th, 2007 - 4:06 pm ICT by admin  

London, November 17 (ANI): A clear understanding of what makes bat noses act as antennae that emit sonar, may help create robots with the capability to navigate in situations like night or underwater, when sensors do not work properly, say researchers in China.

Rolf Muller, a computational physicist at Shandong University in Jinan, has combed the caves of Southeast Asia to determine how a bat shoots sonar beams out of its nose.

We are looking at different species to understand their physical tricks, Nature magazine quoted him as saying.

In an experiment, Muller took X-ray scans of the face of a Rufous horseshoe bat, and created a three-dimensional computer model of the nose cavities with their help.

He then shot sound waves of differing frequencies through the modelled nose to see where they resonated, and how they were emitted from the noseleaf, the complex structure surrounding bats nostrils.

Muller found that high frequency sounds resonated in a structure in the middle-back of the nose called the sella, and were emitted from the noseleaf as a narrowly focused beam. He also noticed that low-frequency sounds resonated in a cavity called the lancet, at the top of the noseleaf.

The researchers revealed that furrows in the lancet created four secondary sound sources, and that sonar was emitted from a total of six sources instead of just the two nostril holes.

It widens the beam you have a wider array and you can splash the sound around better, says Muller.

Published in Physical Review E, the study suggests that using the wide beam in robots may be useful for general navigation.

Muller reckons that a tighter shot of sonar may allow chasing prey or avoiding specific objects in a better manner. (ANI)

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