Robobug - Solar Powered Remote Controlled Cyborg Cockroach
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Robobug is a solar powered remote controlled cyborg cockroach developed by the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research (CPR), which said it outfitted a Madagascar hissing cockroach with a tiny Arduino-based backpack

Robobug is a research breakthrough in Japan that can be used in future search and rescue missions using cyborg cockroaches. 

The ultra-thin solar film and complete with wires running to the bug’s rear legs makes it a star. The Robobug when an electrical current is applied to the electrodes in the insect’s brain, it’s possible for a researcher to send commands wirelessly. Once sent, the Arduino in the backpack converts those bytes into analog voltage (or electromagnetic waves), which then excites gas molecules in a piezoelectric crystal that finally produces pulses of electricity to activate the bugs’ neurons.Robobug - Solar Powered Remote Controlled Cyborg Cockroach_4The CPR team sought a way to power their robot insect and found one in the form of a “novel approach“.

Eggheads have studied the evolution of electronics in organisms and are currently developing power supply devices with higher power densities.Robobug - Solar Powered Remote Controlled Cyborg Cockroach_1It is difficult for today’s battery technology to power a tiny electronic device for more than a few hours. Because of this limitation, the team combined a battery with solar power technology to keep it powered up as long as possible.

Researchers from the University of California are making solar panels as thin as a cockroach’s hair. A solar panel that is as thin as 4 microns will generate power and allow a cockroach to be unhindered.Robobug - Solar Powered Remote Controlled Cyborg Cockroach_2This solar cell combined with the roach’s robotic backpack allows it to go for two hours before running out of power. The majority of the power is used to send and receive signals to steer the insect, however.

Researchers didn’t have to worry about a roach’s welfare because the backpacks are removable and the bugs are returned to their terrarium when not taking part in a test.

Future of Robobug – Solar Powered Remote Controlled Cyborg Cockroach
The invention of a cyber roach may not be the best way to find disaster areas or hazardous zones in order to make sure that people are safe. It will take a long time for the RIKEN team to make these bugs able to explore such damaged areas.

To charge the battery, you’ll have to alternate between periods of light and dark. This means that charging is a slow process.

To ensure the power source can keep up, the researchers recommend that a locomotion sensor and a temperature sensor be added to the system. Without these sensors, the cockroach will roam away from the charging system.

Customized roaches would stop running away from light when they’re programmed to do so, but the current A.I. isn’t sophisticated enough do manage custom tasks.Robobug - Solar Powered Remote Controlled Cyborg Cockroach_3Yujiro Kakei has designed a cyborg pack to be carried by roaches. The total cost of this setup is 5,000 yen or $35. It’s not state-of-the-art but the hopes are to add sensors and a camera. Yujiro says that they want to make the technology small for future iterations.

The team’s strategy is not limited to cockroaches. According to Fukuda, the solar film can also be built into other insects, like beetles or even flying insects like a cicada. He also mentions that the solar film can be in clothing and used in skin patches, powering vital sign monitors.

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