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It’s a bat! It’s a plane! It’s Bat Bot!

Bat Bot
Bat Bot begins. (Ramezani et al. / Caltech / UIUC via Science Robotics)

Holy drone, Batman! Scientists have created a robotic drone with soft, flapping wings that looks and flies like a ghostly bat.

The Bat Bot project, conducted by researchers at Caltech and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, may sound like a Halloween prank gone wild. But there’s a serious point behind the spookiness.

“This robot design will help us build safer and more efficient flying robots, and also give us more insight into the way bats fly,” Soon-Jo Chung, an aerospace professor at Caltech as well as a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a news release.

A research paper describing the project was published online today by the journal Science Robotics.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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