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Japanese Scientists Built Remote Controlled Cyborg Cockroaches With Solar Panels

Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf is a law graduate and freelance journalist with a keen interest in tech reporting.

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Japanese Scientists from the Riken institute’s Cluster for Pioneering Research (CPR) have built a remote-controlled cyborg Cockroach using solar panels. The team experimented with Madagascar cockroaches, using wires to stimulate the leg segments of the 6cm-long creatures.

The insects’ backs were covered with an incredibly thin solar panel that charged batteries stored in specially designed backpacks. The researchers were able to use a remote control to have the cockroaches turn left and right after thirty minutes of charging the battery with simulated sunlight.

The researchers hope the method may be applied to cyborg cockroaches designed to investigate dangerous regions or keep an eye on the environment in hard-to-reach locations. Previous attempts to make cyborg cockroaches entailed changing batteries or utilizing a wired arrangement, but these techniques could not be practical for the technology’s eventual use.

Movement freedom was made possible by the organic solar cell’s ultrathin and flexibility and how it was attached to the insect. The scientists discovered that the abdomen changes shape and parts of the exoskeleton overlap when they closely examined the motions of cockroaches in their natural environment.

They interspersed adhesive and non-adhesive regions onto the films to accommodate this, allowing the films to stretch while maintaining their bond. The cockroaches required twice as long to cover the same distance when thicker solar cell films were tested or when the films were uniformly connected. On their backs, they also had difficulty getting themselves upright.

Speaking on the achievement, Dr. Kenjiro Fukuda, a senior research scientist at Riken who led the study, said since cockroaches are not the only insects that can develop abnormal abdominal structures, the method could eventually be used on beetles or even flying insects like cicadas.

“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,” said Dr. Kenjiro Fukuda, “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.”


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