Broadly Applicable Tracking System

scientific research tool

The Broadly Applicable Tracking System, also called BATS, is a very small, lightweight tool shaped like a backpack. Scientists glue the BATS onto the back of a bat or other small animal and then use GPS and wireless internet to see where the animal goes.[1][2]

The scientists who invented BATS say it is different from other systems because it is lighter, uses less power and can track animals even inside caves or hollow trees.[3]

BATS can be made with a 3D printer, and it is so light that it does not slow down small bats when they fly. It also falls off after about fourteen days. Scientists can collect fallen BATS to reuse the parts.

Scientists used BATS to show that vampire bats can make social bonds when being kept by humans that they remember after being released.[1]


Scientists named the tool "broadly applicable tracking system" because they believe it can be used in a broad range of animals: bats, rodents, amphibians and reptiles.[1] "Broadly applicable" means "can be used in many ways." As of April 2020, BATS has only been used on bats.


The team that invented BATS includes scientists from the Museum of Natural History in Berlin and universities in Germany and Ohio State University.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ohio State University (April 2, 2020). "Scientists develop 'backpack' computers to track wild animals in hard-to-reach habitats". Eurekalert. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  2. "Fingertip-size "Backpack" Computers Used to Track Tiny Animal's Social Behavior". Science Times. April 3, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  3. Simon P. Ripperger; Gerald G. Carter; Rachel A. Page; Niklas Duda; Alexander Koelpin; Robert Weigel; Markus Hartmann; Thorsten Nowak; Jörn Thielecke; Michael Schadhauser; Jörg Robert; Sebastian Herbst; Klaus Meyer-Wegener; Peter Wägemann; Wolfgang Schröder-Preikschat; Björn Cassens; Rüdiger Kapitza; Falko Dressler; Frieder Mayer (April 2, 2020). "Thinking small: Next-generation sensor networks close the size gap in vertebrate biologging". PLOS. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000655. Retrieved April 7, 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)