Scientists say they have developed the first completely autonomous bat-like robot that uses sound to move through a new environment while it is being mapped.
Bats map new environments and simultaneously navigate with echolocation.
The process involves the transmission of sound and the extraction of information from the echoes that are reflected by the surrounding objects, according to the study published in PLOS Computational Biology.
Many theoretical frameworks have been proposed to explain how bats routinely solve one of the most challenging problems in robotics.
However, few attempts have been made to build a real robot that mimics their capabilities.
Researchers at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel have developed the robot Robat, which uses a biological bat-like approach, emits sound and analyzes the returning echoes to generate a map of space.
Robat has an ultrasonic loudspeaker that mimics the mouth, producing frequency modulated peeps at a rate commonly used by bats, as well as two ultrasonic microphones that mimic ears.
It went autonomously through a new outdoor environment and mapped it in real time with only sound, according to researchers.
Robat determines the boundaries of objects it encounters and classifies them with the help of an artificial neural network, creating a rich, accurate map of its environment and avoiding obstacles.
For example, when the robot reached a dead-end path, he used his classification properties to determine whether it was blocked by a wall or by a plant allowing it to pass, researchers said. PTI