Introducing Robo-bug, a rechargeable remote-controlled cyborg cockroach

To help explore dangerous areas or monitor the environment, scientists have been trying to create cyborgs, partly insects, and primarily machines. Despite this, the ability to control cyborgs from a distance for extended periods is essential for their use to be viable. However, their power output is limited to less than one megawatt, which is far less than that required for wireless traffic control. The energy-harvesting device area and load greatly impair the movement of the small robots.

An international team led by researchers at The kingdom Cluster for Pioneering Research (CPR) has designed a system to create remote-controlled cyborg cockroaches. The system consists of a small wireless controller which is operated by a rechargeable battery attached to a Solar cells. Thanks to flexible materials and ultra-thin electronics, insects may move, despite mechanical tools.

Scientists conducted their research using Madagascar cockroaches 6 cm long. The wireless leg controller and lithium-polymer battery were mounted on the insect’s chest using a specially designed backpack shaped like a typical cockroach body. The backpack is 3D printed with flexible polymer and conforms perfectly to the curved surface of the cockroach. This allowed the rigid electronic device to rest firmly on the chest for more than a month.

Kenjiro Fukuda, RIKEN CPR, said, “The ultra-thin 0.004 mm-thick organic solar cell module is installed on the dorsal side of the abdomen. The body-mounted ultra-thin organic solar cell module achieves an output power of 17.2 MW, more than 50 times that of current state-of-the-art energy collectors on live insects.”

Freedom of movement is made possible by the membership Solar cellsIts structure is thin and flexible and the way it attaches to the insect. The scientists found that the abdomen changes shape and parts of the exoskeleton overlap after closely observing the model cockroach movements.

To do this, they spread the adhesive and non-adhesive areas onto the films, allowing them to flex while remaining attached. The cockroaches took twice as long to run the same distance when the thin-film solar cell films were tested, and had trouble standing up after falling on their backs.

Once these components were incorporated into the crickets and wires that stimulate the leg segments, the new cyborgs were tested. The battery was charged with pseudo-sunlight for 30 min, and the animals were turned left and right using the wireless remote control.

Fukuda He saidAnd the “Considering the deformation of the chest and abdomen during basic locomotion, a hybrid electronic system consisting of rigid and flexible elements in the chest and ultra-soft abdominal devices appears to be an effective design for cyborgs. Furthermore, because abdominal deformation is not unique to cockroachesIn the future, our strategy could be adapted to other insects such as beetles or flying insects such as cicadas. “

Journal reference:

  1. Kakei, Y., Katayama, S., Lee, S. et al. Integration of body-mounted ultra-smooth organic solar cells on sound-moving cyborgs. npj flex electron 6, 78 (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41528-022-00207-2