WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Japanese researchers are working on a potentially life-saving ‘cyborg’ cockroach.
- The “Robobug” can be deployed for search and rescue missions after an earthquake or another disaster.
- They explained that the cyborg roaches are more efficient in terms of power consumption, compared to miniature robots.
Japanese scientists are working on a remote-controlled cockroach, called the “Robobug,” to help save people’s lives.
Since the tiny cockroaches can slip into tight spaces, the Robobugs can be deployed for search and rescue missions after an earthquake or other disasters.
Senior research scientist Kenjiro Fukuda of Riken Institute said that the remote-controlled cockroach could be more efficient than the currently used miniature robots.
Fukuda explained that in terms of power consumption, the Robobug is more efficient since “the insect itself generates power by using their muscles.”
Last month, Fukuda’s team reported on their progress in developing the system to control live Madagascar cockroaches in the peer-reviewed NPJ Flexible Electronics journal.
Fukuda, whose latest research solved some of the existing technology’s limitations, said that scientists have been trying to perfect remote-controlled critters for about a decade.
Fukuda explained that since the bugs have a small surface area, the tiny batteries mounted on them can drain quickly and can be difficult to recharge.
So they created tiny 3D-printed backpacks, along with “ultra thin” organic solar cell modules and small wires to stimulate the bugs’ legs. This way, the battery can be recharged in about 30 minutes using light.
Fukuda said that the technology has little impact on the bugs’ lifespan, since the hardware can be detached after a mission. However, there is still more work to be done since the solar cells also degrade quickly when mounted on the bugs.
The team also plans to develop an algorithm to command the bug to seek light as a means of recharging while on a rescue operation.
Fukuda hopes to have a fully functional rescue cyborg bug ready for deployment in the next 3 to 5 years.
Source: USA Today