Beetles, bees, blowflies, moths … How many of you hate these tiny annoying creatures? People around the world who suffer from entomophobia will surely shudder now that cyborg insects are also made, allowing to reach places where conventional cameras cannot get into, for purposes of surveillance and rescue.
The members of the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) are, in fact, investing a lot of time and money in research and development of robotic insects, capable of carrying GPS trackers and micro cameras on their body.
Think about how they would be useful in the search for missing people in natural disasters like earthquakes. They could easily sneak through the rubble trying to detect signs of life. And think about how they would be useful also in the military to monitor the enemy. He would never think that those flies buzzing in his room are actually miniaturised bugs!
The only remaining problem is how to power something so small. These insects, in fact, would be hardly able to take off if weighed down by batteries. Moreover, the battery life can’t be as long as required for the purpose. For this reason US engineers, instead of creating entirely robotic beings, would rather prefer to “mount” micro equipment for surveillance on real insects, possibly of a certain size, like cockroaches and bumblebees, using the energy generated by the flapping of their wings.
Paradoxically, it seems that it is easier to drive a real hornet than its robotic equivalent. Although a robot can be programmed as desired, real insects do not have the power problems encountered in the development of their mechanical counterparts, and can be easily controlled through small electrodes placed in their nervous system.
The energy generators would be installed in correspondence of the wings and would be able to produce a total of 45 µw for each insect. According to the researchers, the output power will surely be higher by about 10 times by connecting the generators directly to the flight muscles of insects.
A great tool, then, to penetrate and monitor the most remote places, where humans and conventional equipment can not reach, or at least fail to reach on their own.