A remote controlled robo-bug cockroach is a flexible electronic that can be a game changer when it comes to search and rescue missions. The cyborg bug will be remote controlled and will be able to be powered by the sun thanks to solar-powered backpacks. Some will even help sniff out explosives too.
Since these robo-bugs need to be able to take direction in order to be part of a search and rescue team, which is why it will need to be remote controlled until we figure out the linguistic code to Blattodea communication. However, the control is just half of the situation.
These flexible electronics that were used to create these require a lot of power, and there is not a lot of room on the actual robo-bugs to store a huge battery. This is why the solar-power was thought of by scientists being creative.
The tiny solar-powered backpacks will allow the cockroaches to have a local setup that can maintain power even in bright conditions and will minimize the risk of the cockroaches running out of battery in the middle of a mission.
It was tough to create a backpack that could fit them. Madagascar cockroaches were used for research and they are 2.5 inches long. That’s why scientists chose to use use the ultra-thin organic solar cell modules and a strong adhesive in order to create a battery back that doesn’t limit mobility.
The device was made with a 3D printer and placed on the thorax of the robo cockroach. It works better than all of the existing models and can last for over a month.
Lead researcher Kenjiro Fukuda from RIKEN CAR shared in a statement: “The body-mounted ultrathin organic solar cell module achieves a power output of 17.2 mW, which is more than 50 times larger than the power output of current state-of-the-art energy harvesting devices on living insects.”
This technology is not limited to just one kind of insect. Fukuda explained: “Considering the deformation of the thorax and abdomen during basic locomotion, a hybrid electronic system of rigid and flexible elements in the thorax and ultrasoft devices in the abdomen appears to be an effective design for cyborg cockroaches.”
He continued: “Moreover, since abdominal deformation is not unique to cockroaches, our strategy can be adapted to other insects like beetles, or perhaps even flying insects like cicadas in the future.”