The Bat Bot, otherwise known as B2, is ostensibly built in order to give scientists a better understanding of how bats maneuver through their environment. We can’t help but wonder, however, if they did it mostly because it was cool.
Bats are notoriously uncooperative, as is the case with most wild animals, when you want to study the finer details of how they move around. Building a synthetic analog allows scientists to probe and investigate to their hearts’ delight without needing to worry about the feelings or well-being of the target animal (via Secemu).
The Bat Bot is surprisingly effective, both aesthetically and mechanically. It is built upon an exoskeleton that mirrors, to some degree, the skeletal architecture of a living bat. On top of that, researchers attached a flexible material that likewise mirrors the stretching and flexing of a bat’s wings.
Unlike other flying machines that rely on rotors to keep them aloft, the B2 flies the same way a bat or a bird does, by flapping its wings. While it’s not quite as good at flying as its namesake, if seen at a distance, you might have a hard time distinguishing it from the real thing. At least, as long as you caught a glimpse of the dark-colored version and not its ghostly, semi-transparent sibling.