By all logic bats shouldn't be able to fly. They're basically rats with wings, yet somehow they manage to soar through the air, and researchers at Brown University have finally figured out how. But since they're not the easiest animals to work with, Kenneth Breuer and Sharon Swartz created this biologically accurate robotic bat wing that perfectly mimics the creature's motions.
As the robo-bat was being developed and refined, the researchers were able to learn how all of the muscles and ligaments in the wing work together to not only enable flight, but also keep the animal intact while it was vigorously flapping.
The practical benefits of this research include developing more energy-efficient light aircraft, and even general improvements for the aerodynamics of existing planes. And of course better equipment and more authentic costumes for masked vigilantes. [Brown University via Geekosystem]