With more than 40 joints in their wings, bats are nimble and agile fliers that can change the shape of their wings literally on the fly.

That kind of flexibility is the goal of many flying robots, and a team of scientists from Caltech and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a promising robot that can mimic some of a bat's flying behavior.

Called Bat Bot, the small robot sports "highly stretchable silicone-based membrane wings" that are controlled using what are considered the nine most important joints in an actual bat. With a computer inside of it to steer, Bat Bot can fly, dive and make banking turns.

But this doesn't mean Bat Bot is ready to soar through the night sky, diving for bugs to munch on. It's currently too fragile for anything other than lab work, and Bat Bot has a relatively short battery life. Should Bat Bot receive more development, it could pave the way for surveying tasks done by clunkier, less smooth-flying drones.