Led by mechanical engineering professor Rolf Mueller, a group of researchers at Virginia Tech developed a brand new, bat-inspired technology to assist robots precisely decide a sound’s origin. The group hopes that its new know-how will enhance robotics for agriculture, environmental surveillance, and naturally, protection and safety.
Scientists and engineers base most sound location know-how on human listening to, which is comparatively inaccurate. People depend on each ears to find out a sound’s origin with a 9 diploma accuracy, whereas bats can pinpoint sound inside half a level utilizing both of their ears.
Each people and bats decide a sound’s origin via the Doppler impact, a phenomena the place a sound’s frequency (and subsequently its pitch) will increase or decreases as you method or transfer away from a sound supply (the Doppler impact doesn’t occur if you’re standing nonetheless, solely if you or the sound supply are actively moving). As a result of bat ears are always flicking and fluttering, they will “scan” a sound for its Dopplar shift signature and decide its location with extra accuracy than a human.
The brand new sound location know-how is, at its most elementary degree, a duplicate of the bat ear. Rolf Mueller and his group crafted an artificial bat ear that strikes and flutters, relaying a sound’s Dopplar signature to a small microphone. Then, a neural internet specifically educated to parse Dopplar shift signatures determines the sound’s origin with unimaginable accuracy.
As of now, the sound finding system developed by Rolf Mueller and the Virginia Tech group depends fully on bat anatomy. Future enhancements might remove the necessity for an artificial bat physique half, however there’s a very good probability that we’ll see autonomous robots with wiggly, fluttering bat ears.