Research progress in Japan may mean future search and rescue missions with cyborg cockroaches. Moreover, a very thin solar film is the real star of this show.
technical leap made”robobugPossible was developed by RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research (CPR), which said it equipped the Madagascar cockroach with a small Arduino-based backpack, complete with wires extending to the insect’s rear legs. When stimulated with an electric current, the researchers were able to make the cyberroach turn either into Left or Right Commands are sent wirelessly to the Arduino system in the backpack, which then transmits the error.
in published paperThe CPR team, led by Kenjiro Fukuda of RIKEN’s Thin Device Laboratory, said their experiment has largely centered on finding a new way to operate the robotic insect.
“The development of electronics that can be combined with living organisms has increased the demand for the development of power supply devices with higher energy density,” Eggheads wrote.
Unable to power their small electronic devices on battery alone, due to limitations in current battery technology, the team chose to combine battery and solar energy, using light to keep a small battery inside the backpack charged for as long as possible.
This solar energy was generated by a membrane of organic solar cells just 4 microns thick (for reference, a human hair is about 70 microns thick), and it was designed to attach to the cockroach’s abdomen without restricting its movement.
By building this solar cell and connecting it to the battery, the team was able to get two hours of activity out of the cockroach’s back unit. Most of the energy was ingested by sending and receiving Bluetooth signals to direct the insect, the researchers said.
For those concerned about the welfare of crickets, the 3D-printed backpacks are removable, and the insects are returned to their terrarium when not participating in the tests.
Fortunately, the future of electronic insects is still a long way off
The idea of rescuing a collapsed building with the help of a three-inch wired electronic cannon might not be the most fun idea, but for now that’s just an idea. The RIKEN team has a lot of work to do to create remote pilot insects that are able to explore disaster and danger zones.
First, cockroaches are nocturnal and do not quite like the sun, a problem the team faced. To charge the cockroach’s battery backpack, the researchers had to alternate between periods of light and dark, which meant that the charging process was extremely slow.
To get around this problem, the researchers said additional hardware is needed that includes a motion control system, light sensors and temperature sensors, none of which are part of the test build. With these sensors attached, the researchers wrote in the research paper, “an algorithm can be created that induces the cockroach to remain under light while placing a charge in the system while considering life support.”
The team admitted that these kinds of sophisticated algorithms and cybernetics, which would effectively eliminate the cockroach’s instinct to hide from the sun, are beyond the system’s current capabilities. for example, According to Reutersa recent demonstration of technology made the cockroach turn left on command, but when told to turn right, it simply turned in circles.
RIKEN researcher Yujiro Kaki, who co-authored the paper, said the total cost of a cyborg package carried by cockroaches was just 5,000 yen, or about $35 (£31). Not exactly modern hardware. Kakei said the team hopes to add sensors and a camera, along with miniaturizing the technology for future iterations.
According to Fukuda, the technology the team designed isn’t limited to crickets. “Our strategy could adapt to other insects like beetles, or perhaps even flying insects like cicadas in the future,” Fukuda said. He said the solar film could be incorporated into clothing or used in skin patches to power vital signal monitors. ®
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