Scientists create remote-controlled cyborg cockroaches that can go under search and rescue missions
- A cyborg cockroach has been created by Japanese scientists that is powered by a solar cell on its back.
- Its leg-moving components and battery are fitted into a 'backpack' on the thorax of a cockroach.
cockroachesmight be used in search and rescue missions along with environmental monitoring in the future.
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Japanese scientists have engineered a system for creating remote-controlled cyborg cockroaches. Cyborg cockroaches are equipped with a tiny wireless control module powered by a rechargeable battery attached to a solar cell. Despite the mechanical devices, flexible and ultrathin electronics allow cockroaches to move freely. The team of scientists at the
The cyborg cockroaches, which are part insect and part machine, are intended to enter hazardous areas, monitor the environment or undertake search and rescue missions without needing to be recharged.
The body-mounted ultrathin organic solar cell achieves a power output of 17.2mW. Also, researchers have claimed that these ultrathin and flexible solar cell doesn’t come in the way of the cockroach’s movement.
Kenjiro Fukuda researcher at RIKEN CPR leads the experiment. The team used Madagascar cockroaches which are approximately 6cm (2.4- inches) long. They attached the wireless leg-control module and lithium polymer battery to the top of the cockroach by using a specially designed backpack. This was modelled after creating a 3D body model of a cockroach allowing researchers to create a stable and thin module.
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The solar cell module is just 0.004mm thick and produces 50 times more energy than can be harvested from living insects, said Fukuda.
Cockroaches to robo-roach
Famously able to survive nuclear war, cockroaches have been an inspiration for several technologies in recent years.
During the experiment, scientists attached wires to the sensory organs of cockroaches on the end of their abdomens. They send electrical impulses that cause the insect to move left or right. A unit of the battery was necessary for sending and receiving these electrical signals therefore RIKEN team built a solar-powered module so that they did not need to return to a docking station or its handler when it ran out of power.
The solar-powered module was attached to the top of the insect’s thorax, perfectly fitting the Madagascar cockroach’s curved surface. Further, the system was stable on the insect for over a month.
How could cyborg cockroaches help in disaster zones?
Back in November 2014, the researchers at North Carolina State University fitted cockroaches with electrical backpacks complete with tiny microphones capable of detecting faint sounds.
The idea behind the experiment was that cyborg cockroaches enter the crumpled buildings hit by earthquakes or any other natural disaster and help in find the survivors.
According to Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University, the sound is the best way to find the survivors in the crumpled building. Further, he added, “The goal is to use the
By electrically stimulating the cyborg cockroaches, they are prompted to move in a certain direction. Also, the module is equipped with three directional microphones to detect the direction of the sound more efficiently and steer the cyborg cockroaches in the right direction.
Further, cyborg cockroaches can be fitted with a single microphone to capture sound from any direction, which can be wirelessly transmitted, perhaps in the future to emergency workers.
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