Cyborg cockroaches could clean cities

February 4th, 2014 Category: Educational Establishments Office Cleaning

Imagine walking down a street when suddenly a swarm of cyber cockroaches start whizzing around your head! No, this isn’t the plot of a bad science fiction movie, its the latest technological development from Japan.

Researchers have revealed the first cyborg cockroaches, created with the hopes of cleaning up the world’s cities.

Scientists have created a radical new battery that is able to transform the sugar that naturally occurs in the insect’s body into energy. 

Osaka University and the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) co-developed the fuel cell, which measures 20 x 15mm and can be mounted on a cockroach’s back.

According to the researchers, this work will eventually lead to the formation of a wireless sensor network of cyborg bugs.

They are now aiming to build giant ‘swarms’ of their cyber cockroaches to create large sensor networks for chemicals and pollutants.

The research team revealed their creation at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Microelectromechanical Systems (IEEE MEMS) 2014 conference in San Francisco.

If the power source is combined with technology that is able to control the cockroaches, it will be possible to use insects for wirelessly transmitting various sensor signals, according to scientists.

Flying cyborg insects may seem like something straight out of a terrifying science fiction film, but they could go into areas too dangerous for human beings.

According to The Daily Mail, the researchers wrote: “Insects are extremely successful animals, living almost everywhere on the earth. High performing micro-robots have been developed by mimicking their functions and structures.

“Insect cyborgs which are robots controlled by electric stimulation of their brain and neurons are desired for rescue, environmental monitoring and working in a radiation environment.”

Until now, the research team found it difficult to power the cockroach-mounted gadget. They are able to generate power using electromechanical reactions with trehalose – the sugar contained in the insect’s bodily fluid.

A tank of this liquid and a needle-like pipe is inserted into the bug. The trehalose is broken down by enzymes to produce glucose, which is then oxidized creating a simple battery that can power the electronics the insect carries.