An international team from Japan’s RIKEN Pioneering Research Cluster (CPR) has developed a rechargeable cockroach cyborg presented. This is the world’s first insect-robot hybrid solution. The research team managed to equip a Madagascar cockroach with a tiny control unit, a rechargeable battery and a 0.004 millimeter thin solar cell. The species is frighteningly large, its individuals are 6 cm long. Ultra-thin and flexible materials were used so as not to restrict the animal’s freedom of movement. This was not the case with previous similar projects. By ensuring freedom of movement, the insect cyborgs became ripe for practical use.
The cockroach cyborg can help detect dangerous or inaccessible areas and monitor the environment. However, this requires the insects to operate autonomously and remain controllable for extended periods of time, because no one wants to release swarms of robotic insects into the wild unchecked. The greatest challenge for the specialists was to ensure the energy supply of the insects. A charging dock was out of the question, as it would have limited the action’s range in time-critical missions. Instead, they developed a kind of backpack for the cockroach with a chip to control the legs and a lithium polymer battery that sits on the animal’s carapace.
To the rear end of the cockroach, the group led by Kenjiro Fukuda attached a solar cell that is only 0.004 millimeters thin and delivers 17.2 mW of power, which Fukuda says is fifty times the power of previous systems. The entire backpack is printed from flexible material and provides the animal with maximum freedom of movement thanks to the overlapping segments. The experiment was successful: after installing the wires, the scientists irradiated the solar panel with artificial sunlight for 30 minutes and were then able to control the cockroach. Fukuda was confident that they would be able to turn other insects into cyborgs. The researcher stated: “Our strategy will be transferable to other insects, or perhaps in the future even to flying bugs such as cicadas.”
Source: SG.hu Hírmagazin – IT/Tech by sg.hu.
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