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Researchers at RIKEN, a Japanese institute, have created remote-controlled cyborg cockroaches, equipped with a tiny wireless control module that is powered by a rechargeable battery attached to a solar cell.
Ultrathin electronics and flexible materials allow the insects to move freely, despite carrying the mechanical devices on its back. The results if the experiments carried out by the research team were published in the scientific journal npj Flexible Electronics.
The idea behind the design is to create a tool for inspecting hazardous areas and monitoring the environment. For the use of cyborg insects to be practical, however, handlers must be able to control them remotely for long stretches of time. This entails wireless control of their leg segments, powered by a tiny rechargeable battery.
To prevent cockroaches spinning out of control researchers decided to install an onboard solar cell that can continuously ensure that the battery stays charged.
To successfully integrate these devices into a cockroach that has limited surface area required the engineering team to develop a special backpack and ultrathin organic solar cell modules. They also needed an adhesion system that keeps the machinery attached for long periods of time while still allowing natural movements.
Once these components were integrated into the cockroaches, along with wires that stimulate the leg segments, the new cyborgs were tested. The battery was charged with pseudo-sunlight for 30 minutes, and animals were made to turn left and right using the wireless remote control.
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