Friday, 20 January 2012

Cockroach Cyborgs Get Their Own Power Source

Equipped with tiny sensors, insects could scout out buildings filled with noxious chemicals, check under rubble after an earthquake and go places no human spy ever could. In a first step toward making these technologically enhanced insects a reality, scientists have devised a way to power bug-robot hybrids by tapping into their own metabolism. The secret: an implantable biofuel cell powered by a sugar the cockroaches make from their food. The device doesn't appear to harm the insect either.
Neurobiologists on the team implanted the tiny device into the abdomens of five immobilized cockroaches independently, measured the power it produced and removed it. The cockroaches appeared to behave normally afterward, said Daniel Scherson, the senior researcher and a professor of chemistry at Case Western Reserve University. Although the device converted the sugar into energy slowly, the electricity it generated could be stored in a battery and used in bursts, Scherson said.

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