Scientists have developed a cyborg cockroach. Of course, the most common initial reaction to this news is that these skittery bugs are what nightmares are made of. However, these little robots aim to do good by saving lives and leading rescue missions into areas too small for humans to search on their own.
Japanese scientists have designed the new remote-controlled insect, equipping the cockroach with a solar-powered battery “backpack” that allows experts to “control” the bug’s movements. The plan is to send these cyborg cockroaches – or biobots as they are sometimes called – into areas such as post-earthquake tumbled buildings to help rescuers find survivors.
“In a collapsed building, sound is the best way to find survivors,” notes Alper Bozkurt who serves as an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University.
“The goal is to use the biobots with high-resolution microphones,” Bozkurt continues.
“To differentiate between sounds that matter – like people calling for help – from sounds that don’t matter – like a leaking pipe,” the professor continues.
“Once we’ve identified sounds that matter,” Bozkurt adds. “We can use the biobots equipped with microphone arrays to [zero in] on where those sounds are coming from.”
The Cyborg Cockroaches Are Live Insects Being Controlled By Search And Rescue Teams
The cyborg cockroaches are live insects. However, the scientists have attached wires to the bug’s “cerci” sensory organs which are located at the end of the abdomen. These wires send impulses that push the insect to move, turning it right or left.
This cyborg suit, however, is run on a battery. The battery can easily be recharged using a docking station. But the need to recharge could greatly affect a time-sensitive rescue mission. To curb this issue, the team behind the cyborg cockroach created something much more practical…an onboard solar cell. This ensures that the cockroach’s suit can stay charged during the entire mission.
The Insect’s Cyborg Suit Is Made Up Of Some Surreal Sci-Fi Components
The cyborg cockroach’s search and rescue suit is composed of a few very specific components. First, the wireless leg-control module works to control the movements of the insect’s legs. This allows the scientists to turn the insect as needed. The component is fitted into a 3D printed backpack that is installed onto the cockroach’s thorax.
The cyborg cockroach’s lithium polymer battery is part of this 3D backpack. This battery is a necessary piece of equipment that works to power the entire cyborg suit on the insect.
All of this stays up and running via the super thin and flexible solar cell. This is installed on the cockroach’s abdomen and charge’s the battery for continuous use. The solar cell is specially designed to flex along with the cockroach’s natural movements. This allows the fitted insect to move naturally while walking into the missions.