Remotely controlled cockroaches: Japanese are building solar-powered insect cyborgs

Remotely controlled cockroaches: Japanese are building solar-powered insect cyborgs

remote controlled cockroaches
Japanese build insect cyborgs with solar power

Cyborgs are a hybrid of a biological organism and a machine. They can be used as pests in threatened areas and for espionage. But insect cyborgs also need energy. Japanese researchers are now solving this problem with ultra-soft solar cells.

Let the insects roam from afar – that sounds scary and like animal cruelty. Researchers have been working on such cyborgs for years and have now created a particularly persistent mix of insect and robot. Cockroaches carry a wireless control module and batteries powered by ultra-thin solar cells, such as team in the magazine Writes “NPJ Flexible Electronics”. This is another step towards using such hybrid organisms, for example when inspecting dangerous areas or searching for survivors after an earthquake or a gas leak.

Until now, the power supply for insect cyborgs has been a problem for a long time. “Keeping the battery charged is fundamental – no one wants to suddenly find a team of cyber cockroaches running around out of control,” said a statement accompanying the study. Docking stations for charging batteries are possible, but the best solution is a solar cell. The flexible solar cell module used in the current experiments is only four microns thick.

Animals run in any direction

Scientists led by Kenjiro Fukuda of the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research (CPR) use Madagascar hissing cockroaches for their experiments gromphadorhina portentosa Hot and about six centimeters long. He attached a wireless leg control module and a lithium polymer battery to the Bug as a backpack of sorts. It was made in 3D printing from an elastic polymer that was adapted to the curved shape of animals. The leg segments were stimulated via wires and thus controlled remotely – the animals then move in the desired direction.

According to the researchers, the system’s attachment lasted more than a month in tests. The animals will hardly be affected in their normal movement sequences and most of them can rise again from a supine position. In the future, this system could possibly be used for beetles or cicadas as well.

There are many similar projects internationally, for example by the US military. However, animal rights activists are often stunned by such experiments.

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