Researchers placed solar-powered backpacks on cockroaches

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After the dragonfly and the Bumblebee transformed into drone, here is the scariest version of the cyborg insect: the remote-controlled cockroach. Specifically, it is a Madagascar cockroach. In an article published in the journal npj Flexible Electronicsa team of researchers details the method to take control of this insect thanks to a “bag to back » solar.

The device is composed of a small support printed in 3D and glued to the thorax cockroach. This holds the electronics, including an nRF24L01 wireless module and a 40mAh lithium-polymer battery, both connected to an Arduino Pro mini board. The battery is recharged using an ultra-thin organic solar cell of only 4 micrometers thick that produces 17.2 milliwatts of electrical power, glued to theabdomen cockroach.

This device allows you to control a cockroach wirelessly.  © Y. Kakei et al.

Cyborg cockroaches controlled via Bluetooth

The solar cell is divided into strips, which allows it to deform and not interfere with the movements cockroach. Thanks to the small wireless module, they were able to control the insect via Bluetooth, without inserting electrodes in the body of the insect. They used stimulation electric directly on the cerques, appendages at end of abdomen. Apply a Electric power on the left one, and the cockroach turns left, and vice versa.

This solution has proven to be particularly durable, since the device can stay stuck for an entire month. Once charged, battery works for about two hours. These are the communications that consume the most, and therefore the autonomy could be extended by optimizing them. Cockroaches being nocturnal and photophobic, the researchers also suggested adding temperature sensors and photodiodes. Thanks to an algorithm, the system could force the insect to stay under the light to charge the battery.

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