Research using drones as tools have skyrocketed the past year, it seems. Recent articles told about common drones – drones available for purchase by any enthusiast – used for scientific research purposes. We have seen these flying machines spot jellyfish swarms. People have used them to monitor whale movement. A group of researchers even used one to count a super-colony of penguins in Antarctica.
The scientific community has slowly but surely integrated drones into their work. The headlines pile on as researchers in New Mexico use drones to monitor bat activity. And yes, while the idea of a bat drone sounds like something Bruce Wayne concocted up in his free time, this is actually a real thing. The drone’s end game? To be able to infiltrate an actual bat swarm without being detected.
The Bat Drone:
The Chirocopter, termed for the drone, gets its moniker from the scientific name for bats. The drone has a microphone that researchers use to record echolocation chirps. These chirps are what bats use to navigate around their surroundings. The drone is also equipped with a thermal camera to detect bats via their body temperatures. Using these tools, as well as any respectable drone’s hovering capability, they plan on blending in with bats. Blend in as they swarm through the sky and observe what they are doing. Take that, Bruce Wayne!
The research team in New Mexico deployed the drone and it actually blended in with some-800,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats no problem. The project deployment was a success. Not only did the bats act naturally around the drone, they actually managed to stay out of its way. The same working process that affects bats themselves. Ever wondered how they managed to not hit one another as thousands fly in the sky at the same time? The drone is hopefully going to answer that question. Another question for bats is their ability to mass-evade moving objects in front of them. The sky is not free of any obstacle, yet bats in their thousands manage to fly by just fine.
The Chirocopter will be on more flights with the bats for the foreseeable future, and hopefully these questions find their answers.