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The Army's $10M Spy Bat Still Too Big

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the who-hasn't-had-that-problem dept.

199

Lucas123 writes "The University of Michigan's Center for Objective Microelectronics and Biomimetic Advanced Technology (COM-BAT) is working on building a robot bat that would perform long-range reconnaissance for the U.S. Army, but U.Mich is currently struggling with miniaturizing components in order to make the bat small enough to be stealthy. 'The focus is to shrink down many electronics that while currently available would only be good if the US Army wanted, say, a 12-foot spy-bat.' Some components need to be 1,000 times smaller than they currently are. The Army's $10 million grant proposal calls for the bat to be six inches in length, weigh four ounces and use just one watt of power. The bat is supposed to be powered by a lithium-ion battery, charged by solar and wind energy, as well as simple vibrations."

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Vampire? (5, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784572)

Why not make a requirment to be a vampire bat?

It could feed on blood...and thus hurt the enemy, and generate power for long missions. It would be cool too, in that it would only come out at night, and could only be killed with a wooden stake.

:-)

Frosty Poophole (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784600)

The government's $10 million Frosty Poophole is still far too big! Opponents claim that with such a large poophole, poop extrusion is not possible and they must settle for unshaped lumps being excreted.
 

In other news- (3, Funny)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785052)

Army's clue-bat still many, many times too small.

Re:Vampire? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784720)

And why not add some strain of Rabies to it while you are at it then?

Re:Vampire? (3, Funny)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784814)

You hardly need some advanced chemical warfare; the thing is 12 feet across, you can just armor plate it and use the godzilla strategy.. just fly around the city ramming things and thowing people around like Nazgul in the LOTR movies. They won't be able to shoot it down because it's large and radioactive.

Re:Vampire? (1)

kextyn (961845) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785418)

Not only did you not RTFA, you didn't even make it through the summary. The Army wants a 6" bat.

Re:Vampire? (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785464)

He had to at least read the summary--that's how he knew they could build a 12 foot long bat. His point is that just because the army says they want a 6inch bat, *HE* wants a 12 foot bat.

Re:Vampire? (4, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785596)

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like, "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive . . ." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about 100 miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?"

Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. "What the hell are you yelling about," he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. "Never mind," I said. "It's your turn to drive." I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

---Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Re:Vampire? (2, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785700)

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

-Hunter S. Thompson

Hmm...perhaps this belonged on the article about Addiction to video games.....

Re:Vampire? (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785212)

Not a vampire, but the Mothman [wikipedia.org] . Scare people to death and give in to the conspiracy theorists.

Re:Vampire? (1)

Cousarr (1117563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785302)

Or make it a vampire bat in the sense it lands on local power lines and leeches in order to recharge.

In other news (3, Funny)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785670)

Bald Eagles have been listed to the State Department list of international terrorist organizations after several members of this group disabled and destroyed several of COM-BAT's in various countries in North America. John Negroponte stated "We believe that this group, which typically uses airborn counter-intelligence tactics has an international reach and has demonstrated a willingness to attack members of our armed forces, including such flying robots." Addressing those who have complained that the bald eagle is the official US bird, Negroponte added "It has now become clear that terrorists have infiltrated even this historic ally of ours and, like Saddam, we must eliminate them. Later today, we will propose legislation to Congress changing the national bird to the pidgeon."


The state department is said to be considering adding various other carnivorous birds to the list as well.

Sounds like a comic book prop (4, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784582)

Quick, Robin! Hand me the bat-bat!

But seriously, why go with an ornithopter design? There's that excellent quote about AI's, "The question of whether a computer thinks like a person is as relevant as whether a submarine swims like a fish."

Would not a conventional ultralight drone with battery-operated propeller work more effectively than flappy wings?

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784630)

But seriously, why go with an ornithopter design?

Stealth. It needs to act (at least somewhat) like a real bat or it will be detected. Real bats are ornithopters. Ergo, the spy craft must be an ornithopter.

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784822)

Not really necessary to build a complete one then - remote control a bird instead. Pigeons have great stamina and they are often resilient to stress.

Disadvantage is that they may be captured and eaten.

Another catch is the animal rights activists that will have their say in it too when you implant your electrodes into the pigeon's brain.

For greater payload you may want to use a falcon or an albatross.

There is an advantage with flexible wings, but it's also a lot more complex which means that a fixed-wing device would often be better. If you can't make it stealthy you may use the power of confusion instead. Make a large range of different styles - this means that those that you want to watch can't decide who is watching them.

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (1)

smackt4rd (950154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785158)

Might be tough to carry a live bird around with electrodes in its brain through swamps, and such. Don't think that would last too long. :) Also, I don't think there's many albatros' in iraq or Afganistan or wherever, but bats are all over the place.

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785440)

It needs to act (at least somewhat) like a real bat or it will be detected

Boy, this will be a challenging problem for enemy combatants to solve. I can see it now:

BBC News January 2013: "U.S. begins use of COM-BAT robotic bat-like surveilance device."

BBC News January, 2014: "Scientists report inexplicable collapse of local bird and bat populations over the last year."

Pigeons next (4, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784660)

The idea of a bat-like creature is probably a concern because fixed wing designs will attract more attention.

Basically, they want something that'll look like a bird, fly like a bird, and would be able to engage in surveillance without anyone noticing. The next logical step would be to make a pigeon-like creature, that would be unnoticeable in an urban environment. A few thousand of those in a large city could make enforcing "free speech zones" much easier.

Re:Pigeons next (2, Funny)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784794)

Defense technology research labs are staffed by the same sort of nerds that post here on Slashdot. I don't think it's likely that they are intentionally developing technology that can be used against their own fellow urban Americans.

Re:Pigeons next (4, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784818)

I find fault with your logic, because you're assuming that one's beliefs and principles override one's requirement to work in order to feed, clothe, and house themselves and their families.

Re:Pigeons next (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785486)

Or that some could honestly feel that they are doing something "for the greater good"

Re:Pigeons next (1)

jhines (82154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785586)


Make them bombers then like the real birds, they crappa all over da place.

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784682)

No doubt they would like their spy drone to be easily mistook for an animal, as opposed to a spy drone. Typical spy drones tend to look like.. well.. typical spy drones, so if they're spotted, no one really needs to guess what its purpose is.

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784686)

Would not a conventional ultralight drone with battery-operated propeller work more effectively than flappy wings?

Then it would stand out. If it looks like an ordinary bat, then nobody is gonna touch it.

I remember reading about the experiment of spy cats with mind-control hardware in their brain. The test cats got dizzy and wondered out into the street, and millions of dollars was suddenly squashed. A 10-million-dollar robo-bat may be flying around and suddenly be eaten by a falcon or something.
             

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784904)

Then why not a hawk or one of the other birds that can float as well as flap? Plus using a bat will pretty much mean night missions,as it is very rare to see a bat at 1PM on a sunny day,whereas we see so many birds out at all hours that I doubt anyone would notice another hawk/sparrow/crow sized bird flying around. I have a feeling they chose bat because it would look cooler,and thus would be an easier sell.

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (2, Interesting)

Bobb9000 (796960) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784786)

Depending on the wing design and control software, ornithopters can actually be a lot more maneuverable than fixed wing aircraft. If they want an ability to go indoors, fixed-wing is pretty much out, and helicopters both burn energy like crazy and tend to a bit more obvious.

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (3, Insightful)

mckinnsb (984522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785016)

The additional benefit of a bat-like design (as opposed to a pigeon) is that they are nocturnal - so a spy-bat flying around at night would be more difficult to discern from a real bat as opposed to a spy-pigeon from a real pigeon. Bats are also nearly ubiquitous in the earth's ecology, making them ideal for spying anywhere.

Another plus involves the behavior of a bat. A bat sitting still in a tree or a cave wouldn't be considered "abnormal" by a casual observer- and most people are honestly too afraid of them to go up to it and examine it closely. Especially if its hidden amongst a group of "real bats", which would only add to the camouflage aspect.

A perfect night spy. Of course, why not just install a bio-tech camera in a real bat? I'm sure we might see that someday.

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785090)

Those mosquito helicopters are like 20 bucks and do the same thing, sounds to me like a pork barrel to fund something else. For 10 million, couldn't you just tape a dvr to a real bat and pay off PETA to leave you alone?

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (1)

Bobb9000 (796960) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785386)

If you want a military recon drone that only has enough battery capacity to fly for ten minutes and can barely lift more than its own weight before you add the camera and long-range transceiver, sure. 10 million isn't out of line to do what the military's asking for, here, because they're asking for quite a bit. As for using real bats, interfacing control circuitry into a brain to a sufficient degree to get more than "turn right, now turn left" is a hell of a lot more complicated of a problem then miniaturizing batteries and electronics packages.

Re:Sounds like a comic book prop (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785692)

There's that excellent quote about AI's, "The question of whether a computer thinks like a person is as relevant as whether a submarine swims like a fish."


Not sure exactly what you are getting at with that comment, but IIRC, there were some significant advancements made when submarine designers started studying fish. Early subs were designed as surface boats, but in the 50s, with the advent of the nuclear power plant, subs were redesigned with lessons learned from marine animals, resulting in much more efficient performance underwater.

COM-BAT? (5, Funny)

Ryukotsusei (1164453) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784588)

Okay, this is taking military acronyms way too far..

Re:COM-BAT? (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784976)

Just erase the C and write a W in to turn it into a WOM-BAT.

Too obscure?

Re:COM-BAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784986)

Exactly... where's the Biometrics part? Does it take fingerprints, capture irises...? Facial photo maybe... WTF... They should have made the B - Bionic instead (or more appropriately BIG...) ah but they had to play the "Biometrics" card.

Re:COM-BAT? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785032)

Just wait until you hear about their next project, the Battle Ordnance for Military Blasting (BOMB).

Well, they can't use BAT-COM. (1)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785216)

I think that DC Comics has a copyright on that name.

I'm still working on my robot Jew... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784590)

...but need to miniaturize the 12-foot nose.

Anyone out there have $10M to donate to help me finalize my Hebraic robot overlord that will eat lox and run my diamond store for me?

Magic Charge (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784596)

The bat is supposed to be powered by a lithium-ion battery, charged by solar and wind energy, as well as simple vibrations.

Why don't they just ask for Zero Point Energy while they're at it? The "bat" is going to be working against the wind, generating vibrations, and (presumably) flying at night. Which makes all those charge methods about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. Why don't they ask for something that follows the KISS principle and just pull the battery pack to charge it?

Re:Magic Charge (4, Interesting)

Bobb9000 (796960) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784712)

Since the article says it's supposed to be long-range, my guess is that the mission profile would be to sit somewhere out of the way and charge during the day, then do its recon at night. All of those methods are very useful, because it means the drone could stay in an area and continue to operate without human intervention nearly indefinitely.

Re:Magic Charge (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784718)

Those are a couple of the major hurdles to jump. I think that it may be easier to train real bats and learn to communicate with them so that you can debrief them when they return from the field...

Re:Magic Charge (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784860)

The "bat" is going to be working against the wind, generating vibrations, and (presumably) flying at night. Which makes all those charge methods about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.
You are assuming the battery would only charge while the bat is flying. I can't imagine why they would do that.

Re:Magic Charge (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784958)

You are assuming the battery would only charge while the bat is flying.

That I am. Because otherwise I don't see the point. Rather than add the weight and complexity of all those charging methods, why not pull the battery pack out and plug it into a charger? If finding a power source is a problem, make the charger plug into the cigarette lighter in the Humvees. (Or whatever other power plug the military might be equipping their vehicles with.) Much simpler, less expensive, and more reliable.

Of course, I've seen enough of these descriptions to know that the military sends out requests for SciFi technology all the time. They don't actually expect anyone to meet these goals. What they expect is for the contractors to push themselves as close as they can possibly get. The contractor that gets the closest gets the contract.

Re:Magic Charge (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785482)

"Because otherwise I don't see the point"

long range spy. i.e., not a "toss 'em up in the air, let him circle around a few times, and then he can come home for dinner" kind of drone. Should we hang a sign around his neck saying: "Excuse me, Mr. Adversary, sir. Would you kindly plug me in to the nearest cigarette lighter? I can't keep spying on you if you don't. Pretty please?"

The goal is to operate for extended duration away from friendly operators. A longer mission time equals a longer stored energy payload, or some ability to recharge. Since the former is counterproductive to a light weight system, you opt for the latter. Since recharge cannot rely on an external function (someone plugging it into a HMMWV, etc.), recharge has to be internal and passive. Hence hoping for solar, thermal, vibrational scavenge, etc.

They can't meet the spec, but that doesn't mean the goals weren't picked for a reason.

Re:Magic Charge (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785578)

long range spy

Save for the fact that it's an utterly ridiculous goal. We don't even have short range UAVs that meet these specs. Yet the military wants to jump straight to a magical robot that's 6 inches wide and can handle long-range missions? Worse yet, we don't have UAVs that can land and takeoff unattended inside enemy territory. Yet the military thinks that this magical ornithopter is going to manage takeoff and landing unattended? (Which is significantly complicated by its wing design.) On top of that, the military really expects that these things will lay out in the open (where they can get sunlight) and go completely undetected?

There are so many WTFs in their long-range reconnaissance plan, that it sounds like something Dan Brown wrote.

Watch Your Words (1)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785050)

You said KISS along with "bat"...Gene Simmons is sure to strike up a deal with the DOD now... The KISS Bat - flies, glides, blinds its enemies by spitting blood....new from the U.S. Army!

Re:Magic Charge (1)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785332)

Well, they could use gravity [slashdot.org] as a way to charge the bat. So while it is hanging upside-down waiting for further instructions it is actually charging.
Of course energy-sucking gigantic vampire bats that will leech on unsuspecting power grids sounds far more interesting.

Re:Magic Charge (1)

inflamed (1156277) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785532)

Yo do realize, that for gravity to charge the bat, the bat has to relinquish some potential energy... you know... fall? At some point, it will have to somehow fly back up to its original elevation to continue its mission using exactly the same amount of potential energy it relinquished when it fell ... with the less-than 100% energy conversion taking a toll, of course.

Re:Magic Charge (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785550)

A ZPM is too big to fit in it and we have better uses for them.

Cue The Peacnik Hippie Crowd. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784602)

With the usual anti-military comments.. Its so predictable when military tech articles come up.

Listen up moderators. These comments are redundant and offtopic and should be modded as such. Read the Slashdot FAQ, it's clear these coments don't belong.

Re:Cue The Peacnik Hippie Crowd. (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784702)

Read the Slashdot FAQ, it's clear these coments don't belong.

Read the Book Of Life, especially the chapter on "Finding A Sense Of Humour".

Slashdot's moderation system rewards postings which are "Funny", "Interesting" and "Insightful", not just those that happen to agree with your (presumably) pro-military opinions.

Re:Cue The Peacnik Hippie Crowd. (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784804)

not just those that happen to agree with your (presumably) pro-military opinions.
In an attempt to get this back on topic...

This "BAT" research is a good thing. Sure, it's intended for the military, but the technology that is being gained from this will find its way into the civilian sector soon enough, and it's all paid for from our military budget. Maybe this will help those that feel guilty that their tax dollars are being spent to kill people and break things. In this case, they are looking to make a zero emissions vehicle that otherwise, might not be being worked on.

Re:Cue The Peacnik Hippie Crowd. (3, Insightful)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784840)

This "BAT" research is a good thing.

So is the cure for cancer. And given the choice, I know where I'd want my taxes to be spent.

Re:Cue The Peacnik Hippie Crowd. (4, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785194)

So is the cure for cancer. And given the choice, I know where I'd want my taxes to be spent.

You present a false dichotomy.

I'm generally in favor of reduced defense spending, but research into new capabilities is something I think is worthwhile. I wholeheartedly agree that a cure for cancer would be better than this, but we don't have that choice available. Even if we did, it's likely that a few $M taken from a robotic bat project wouldn't even be close to enough.

We can spend money on both. Whether spending tax money on this is a good idea is mostly unrelated to whether spending tax money on medical research is a good idea. Obviously the two are connected through tax rates and thus the total government funding available, but as long as the projects are small relative to the total fund, they should each be evaluated against the alternative of reducing taxes (or increasing them, depending on your preferred viewpoint), rather than against each other.

We're all (well, mostly) smart people here, capable of evaluating complex choices. Let's at least look at the correct set of choices, rather than a rhetoric-filled politically motivated set of options that don't actually exist.

Re:Cue The Peacnik Hippie Crowd. (2, Interesting)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785776)

US Military budget for 2007: 1.2 trillion USD (800M main +400M Iraq/Afganistan supplemental)
US R&D budget for 2007: 0.1 trillion USD (includes health, energy, as well as basic research)

What would be wrong with having these reversed? To put it in some context, the military budget equals to US$ 4,000 per each man, woman, or child in the United States, per year. That's a SHITLOAD of money. Which could buy you flying cars, cold fusion, cure for cancer, teleportation, and 200 year life expectancy off the start.

Note that I am not even counting the many millions of (potentially) productive citizens tied up by the military playing the role of drones, and their potential contribution to our society.

Re:Cue The Peacnik Hippie Crowd. (0)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785584)

This "BAT" research is a good thing.
So is the cure for cancer. And given the choice, I know where I'd want my taxes to be spent.
So are you saying that all renewable energy research dollars should go to cancer research? So we should forget about the global warming thing that will flood our coastlines and cause an ice age or heat age or whatever and concentrate on cancer?

Sorry, but in the real world, the military has no interest in curing cancer. While a grand goal, it is worthless from a military perspective. I think you should give credit where credit is due. The military could have just as easily spent this money on a couple of tanks or half a Raptor. So, rather than bitching about the money not being spent on cancer, you should give credit to the military for supporting MIT and researching technology with dual roles. You want cancer research? You are free to donate [cancer.org] to the American Cancer Society. Bonus because it's tax deductible and you can rest easy knowing that your money went to cancer research and not efficient vehicle research. Also, it makes you part of the solution instead of someone bitching about the problem.

**NOTE: I personally believe cancer research is better than GW research. I've seen people die from cancer, never from GW.

Re:Cue The Peacnik Hippie Crowd. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784722)

Power to the people! Hell no, we won't go! Free Huey! Free Mumia! Strength to all our oppressed, repressed, and suppressed brothers united in the struggle against the jackbooted thugs of the imperial Zionist hegemony and the fascist overlords of the military-industrial complex! Aztlan forever!

Now where's my "Rage Against the Machine" t-shirt? I have a sorority mixer to get to.

strange picture in my head (1)

Neotrantor (597070) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784606)

When i read the title i thought it meant some sort of collapseable bat that spies carry around... like in back to the future in the 2015 cafe scene

Let me guess (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784618)

We will figure this all out with EU and Israel as partners, and then watch the companies, such as Intel, AMD, and TI, ship the work to China and/or North Korea?

Re:Let me guess (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784742)

We will figure this all out with EU and Israel as partners, and then watch the companies, such as Intel, AMD, and TI, ship the work to China and/or North Korea?

It is cheaper to do raw research there. It makes me wonder why economists claim that high-end education is our comparative advantage. They got some splainin' to do.
     

Re:Let me guess (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784878)

It is cheaper to do raw research there. Actually it is not. They do not have the same knowledge, so are not capable of doing it the work. Yet. That is why they have a number of spies and students in the west. The goal is to get there by hook or by croak.

Solar power? (5, Funny)

druuna (1097839) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784620)

I've always thought that bats are nocturnal.......

Re:Solar power? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784934)

So? All they have to implement a "sleep during the day" mode just like a real bat, which will recharge its batteries.

Re:Solar power? (1)

Bertie (87778) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785222)

Only problem with that is that real bats sleep in nooks and crannies, rather than sprawled out in the sun, so if you see one sunning itself, it might strike you as a bit unusual, which would kinda defeat the purpose of making your spy drone inconspicuous.

Six inch bat? (3, Funny)

SleptThroughClass (1127287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784644)

What good is a six inch bat? You're not going to hit one out of the ballpark with that.

Re:Six inch bat? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784706)

What good is a six inch bat? You're not going to hit one out of the ballpark with that.
Maybe Vlad Guerrero could?

Bat metaphors... but one louder.

Bat and Solar energy? (1)

joestoner (810477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784656)

Bat requirements.

Giant bat? (4, Funny)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784662)

You know, a 12 foot robot bat might be a bit big for spy missions, but maybe it could be repurposed to scaring the hell out of and possibly murdering people.

It's a 12 foot robot bat, man! That'd scare the hell out of me if it came for me in the dark.

Re:Giant bat? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784770)

maybe it could be repurposed to scaring the hell out of and possibly murdering people.

The problem with such psychological tricks is that they are very short lived. Once your enemy realizes what you're throwing at them, they'll piece together their opponent and develop countermeasures. And when we're talking about a 12 foot flying machine, it wouldn't take long for fear to be replaced by, "target that craft and shoot it out of the sky". At which point its effectiveness would drop substantially.

Even if we assume that the weapon has a 100% operational effectiveness (yeah, right) and thus leaves no survivors to tell what happened, the enemy is going to start noticing his increased losses. And when he notices those losses, he's going to change his deployments to counter the problem. i.e. It only takes one sortie where the enemy has a second team hidden in the shadows to give away the secret of your weapon.

Re:Giant bat? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784946)

Hmm... you make some very good points. I'm even beginning to think that maybe a 12-foot murderous mechanical bat might not be an effective weapon.

And it sounded so logical, at first!

Re:Giant bat? (1)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785132)

The problem with such psychological tricks is that they are very short lived. Once your enemy realizes what you're throwing at them, they'll piece together their opponent and develop countermeasures.
Yes, the trick is short lived ... until you replace those robots that don't frighten them anymore by REAL giant mutant vampire bats. With sharp teeth. All those enemy soldier won't care about this dark giant shape approaching, thinking this is that old robot trick but when the giant mutant vampire bat - with sharp teeth - strikes, it is too late !

Giant bat countermeasures (4, Funny)

SleptThroughClass (1127287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785336)

So you're saying it would be assassins, ninjas, and pirates vs Giant Robot Bat?

Re:Giant bat? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785114)

If this one starts to be deployed, maybe we should reconsider what are our favorite monsters [slashdot.org] . The Scary Hellish Giant Spy Bat of Doom definately must be top in all the list.

We Can't Stop Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784690)

This is bat country.

COM-BAT? Really? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784696)

Seriously, do they think of a word and then try to find a convoluted way to make it an acronym? That invokes images of a military image/marketing department....
Trey: "Hey Lance, what do you think of COM-BAT?"
Lance: "Trey, I think it's FABULOUS!"

Also.... (1)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784732)

...the bat must also be given a pony whenever it asks, and have an ample supply of ice cream for bad bat-days.

Powered by vibrations on a flying object? (3, Insightful)

ramk13 (570633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784748)

Wouldn't having it be powered by vibrations make flight stability that much harder? Most of those devices have a mass that is free to move along one axis which has oscillatory motion. Seems like a device like that would dampen wing beats and other motions that would be important for flight.

Next up, the $10M flying hammer (1)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784756)

Hey, it makes more sense than a bat that flies around in daylight.

Apparently the prototype failed (2, Funny)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784776)

The project to develop the prototype of the COM-BAT some five years ago, the Operational Stealth Tiny Robotic Intelligent Combat Helicopter (OSTRICH) just didn't take off.

A Better Idea (1)

xactuary (746078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784782)

1. Instead, how about aluminum baseball bats? They're cheap enough and we have millions of youth who already own one.

2. Reinstate the draft, lower the age of service eligibility, and let terr'ist heads roll.

3. After a 100 years of this, we can smelt the bats into plowshares.

4. Profit!

Don't like my idea? Rats, foiled again.

Alternative approach... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784800)

The Army's $10 million grant proposal calls for the bat to be six inches in length, weigh four ounces and use just one watt of power. The bat is supposed to be powered by a lithium-ion battery, charged by solar and wind energy, as well as simple vibrations.

Those wacky Army guys. Hell the battery and recharging equipment will weigh more that 4 oz -- especially if powering surveillance *and* flight components.

Wouldn't it just be easier and cheaper to mount the equipment on actual trained bats and let them eat insects? As a bonus, the Guano could be used for munitions - Mmmm Guano...

Personally, I think they're pursuing this project so they can tell people they work in the Bat Cave.

Re:Alternative approach... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784990)

Yeah, and the place they are trained would be known as Guano-tanamo Bay.

Does it matter? (1)

joeflies (529536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784802)

I thought the whole evolution of technology starts with proving that the design works. If the design is valid, then miniaturizing the design can take place over time. If the initial design doesn't work at all, then don't worry about miniaturizing it later.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22785720)

It's not that simple.

Aerodynamics takes on an entirely new set of rules as you scale down. You cannot take a 747 design and shrink it because past a certain point, the same macro level fluid dynamics don't apply.

One of the challanges to this class of devices has been that insects move more by swimming than flying and you cannot make large scale analogs since they see the air as a gas not almost as a liquid like small flying insets do

Additional Design Requirements Include... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784820)

While flying, it needs to be able to identify things that it can hang from.
It needs to work in a downpour.
It needs to be completely edible.
It needs to be able to communicate peaceful intentions to any aliens
    that it encounters before destroying them.
It needs to be able to sing the U.S. national anthem at 160 db and not
    be afraid to go for that high note.
It needs to produce more power than it consumes.

I'm sure there are numerous other ridiculous requirements that the military
mental spooge committee that has had our future diverted to them is dreaming up.

Re:Additional Design Requirements Include... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784872)

Joe L, is that you?

Millions of military dollars (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784834)

Versus tennis racket... Tennis racket FTW!

It's like the "fly on the wall" spy equipment that get squished before it gathers any actual information...

Wait... (1)

Orleron (835910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784864)

Are they making an African or European bat?

In other news... (1)

psydeshow (154300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784874)

The Center for Subjective Microelectronics announced an robotic dolphin that is "pretty small, considering."

Seriously, can these COM-BAT guys get a less academic-sounding name for their center? What are those words even supposed to mean, outside of the dumb military acronym?

That's not a weapon.... (1)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784966)

"The Army's $10 million grant proposal calls for the bat to be six inches in length, weigh four ounces and use just one watt of power. The bat is supposed to be powered by a lithium-ion battery, charged by solar and wind energy, as well as simple vibrations."

....it's a sex toy!

And they're worried about it being too big! Sound like some of the spam I've been getting....

Re:That's not a weapon.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22785616)

....it's a sex toy!
And they're worried about it being too big!
If 12' sounds better to you than 6", you're doing it too much.

beats the last thing the military tried with bats (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784972)

the bat bomb [wikipedia.org]

sounds like the plot of a bad saturday morning cartoon

What this project needs RIGHT NOW (4, Funny)

kjoonlee (226243) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784984)

There are several things that this project needs RIGHT NOW in order to be successful.

First, a whizkid plucked out from high school, who will be separated from his mommy for the first time ever.
Second, a crazy roommate who doesn't care about authority figures
Third, a mysterious man who lives in their closet
Fourth, an annoying dude who tries to suck up to his professor
Fifth, a charming young lady, interested in the whizkid, who just happens to be hyperactive
Sixth, an ambitious and immoral professor who's tricking the innocent to UNKNOWINGLY CONTRIBUTE to a MILITARY PROJECT
Seventh, said professor's inordinate hatred for popcorn -- oh wait...

Re:What this project needs RIGHT NOW (1)

marquis111 (94760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785028)

You forgot to mention the HIJINKS/HILARITIES that inevitably ensue.

Re:What this project needs RIGHT NOW (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785424)

There are several things that this project needs RIGHT NOW in order to be successful.

First, a whizkid plucked out from high school, who will be separated from his mommy for the first time ever.
Second, a crazy roommate who doesn't care about authority figures
Third, a mysterious man who lives in their closet
Fourth, an annoying dude who tries to suck up to his professor
Fifth, a charming young lady, interested in the whizkid, who just happens to be hyperactive
Sixth, an ambitious and immoral professor who's tricking the innocent to UNKNOWINGLY CONTRIBUTE to a MILITARY PROJECT
Seventh, said professor's inordinate hatred for popcorn -- oh wait...
Hey, I think I've seen that anime.

Typical lousy DoD requirements - this one's hosed (1)

finlandia1869 (1001985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785110)

As an acquisition guy, I hate this kind of stuff. This is how DoD projects go way over budget and behind schedule. Instead of "give us a long-range recon platform that the enemy is unlikely to notice," you get "give us a long-range recon platform that's stealthy, looks and flies like a bat, weighs this much, is this big, consumes this much power, can do all this other stuff that we think would be cool, etc., and by the way, you'll need to develop technology that's multiple generations ahead of what you have now." The former lends itself to more realistic requirements, useful incremental development, lower costs, and the like. The latter creates expensive messes.

Just wait for it... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785274)

Unless bats are everywhere in the world, this thing is going to be pretty useless for the "blending in as a bat" aspect. I can just see Greenpeace up in arms after FARC or something goes around shooting bats with flamethrowers to weed out any "spies". *eyeroll*

Pterodactyl (1)

genka (148122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785290)

Why not just ask for a robo pterodactyl instead?

Trying to actually deploy Batman, eh? (1)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785362)

Ah yes, This worked great at Gotham City.

"I'm telling you, it was a giant BAT that attacked me!"

Why Bat? Did they dump the stealth 3-Toed Sloth? (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785404)

I'm wondering why the talk about a bat other than Com-bat sounds like a killer name. Wouldn't be more stealthy to have a three-toed sloth slowly moving through the trees. Nobody would suspect it... except maybe when spotted in Iran. Personally, I'd go for the Sea Gull. It survives everywhere in the world, blends in during the day to the billion others, and hits its target almost everytime!

ep;!X! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22785662)

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