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Robots Can Use Their Own Whirring to Echolocate, Avoid Collisions

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A robot tests an echolocation system using noise from a speaker.

Researcher Jesper Rindom Jensen says the approach could reduce the cost of robots, and many already have a built-in microphone that can be used.

Credit: Jesper Rindom Jensen et al.

Robots can navigate and avoid collisions using the sounds they produce through echolocation as bats do, according to researchers at Denmark's Aalborg University and France's Universite de Lorraine.

Aalborg's Jesper Rindom Jensen and colleagues suggested robots can detect obstacles like walls or other robots by picking up sounds reflected off those objects.

Onboard computers can measure the time it takes for noise from the robot to reach a surface and be reflected back to a microphone on the robot, detecting obstacles as far off as one meter (three feet).

Earlier research yielded a device that beamed sound around itself to navigate, but laboratory experiments demonstrated that background noise created by the robot can accomplish the same task.

From New Scientist
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