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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Solar-powered Cyborg Cockroaches Can Save Humans from Natural Disasters

Although this concept is not new, it is the first time that solar energy has been used by researchers

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Russell Chattaraj
Russell Chattaraj
Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

UNITED STATES: A recent study found that scientists in Japan are using solar energy to harness cockroaches’ ability to explore hard-to-reach areas for environmental monitoring and search-and-rescue operations following a natural disaster.

The cyborg cockroach study, which appeared in the journal npj Flexible Electronics on Monday, describes how scientists at the Riken research centre created tiny solar-powered backpacks that could move the legs of cockroaches from a distance.

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The ability of the backpacks to access the nervous systems of Madagascar hissing cockroaches allowed researchers to steer the robotic roach in specific directions by pressing a wireless button.

Although this concept is not new, it is the first time that solar energy has been used by researchers in place of a battery that would eventually run out. Additionally, the power output of the backpacks was around 50 times greater than that of earlier gadgets.

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In a Texas A&M study from 2015, researchers were able to direct cockroaches to the left and right around 60% of the time using a battery-powered backpack.

In the current investigation, researchers discovered that the trickiest element was attaching a backpack with solar capabilities to an insect without impeding its movement. To see how the roaches travelled on a module that was 17 times thinner than a human hair, Riken experimented with several thin electrical coatings.

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Researchers were able to charge the battery for 30 minutes using artificial sunshine with the solar-powered backpack connected before employing a wireless device to control the direction of the roach.

According to Kenjiro Fukuda, a flexible electronics specialist at Riken, “the current system just has a wireless locomotion control system; therefore, it’s not adequate to develop an application like an urban rescue.”

“We can employ our cyborg insects for such objectives by incorporating other necessary gadgets such as sensors and cameras,” the researcher said.

While cockroaches are perfect for studying nuclear and chemical disasters because they are largely immune to radiation, Fukuda claims that other insects, even flying ones, may use the ultra-thin solar cell to enable human control of their motions.

According to Fukuda, a hybrid electronic system with hard and flexible elements in the thorax and ultrasoft devices in the abdomen looks to be an appropriate design for cyborg cockroaches. He continued to consider the thorax and abdomen’s deformation during basic locomotion.

Furthermore, because abdominal deformation occurs in other insects as well, such as beetles or possibly even flying insects like cicadas in the future, our approach can be applied to them.

Also Read: Australian Scientists Discover a 4-billion-year-old Fragment of the Earth’s Crust

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  • Russell Chattaraj

    Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

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