A team of engineers at Virginia Tech are developing a sonar system that emulates the system utilized by bats. Once refined, this system is expected to be a more efficient and compact alternative to man-made sonar.
Horshoebats emit squeaks from their noses, which allows them to change the characteristics of said squeaks to suit different purposes. One particular squeak allows them to detect frequency shifts caused by the fluttering wings of insects.
The researchers replicated this system by analyzing the nose and ear movements of horseshoe bats before creating computer models and building a prototype. The contraption is around 2.5 times the size of a typical horseshoe bat and uses four motors to move its ears and nose.
This is the first sonar system to features a dynamic emitter (the nose) and dynamic receivers (the two ears), and is set to be implemented on a drone to see if it can aid flight motion.