Video: Half bug, half machine, all cyborg

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have created a beetle-robot hybrid.

Meet the Cyborginsect: the smallest living robot ever made. 

Developed by a team from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and described in a paper in the journal Soft Robotics, the Cyborginsect is a true combination of interlinked biological and electronic systems.

Lead author Vo Doan Tat Thang explains that the biological part of the robo-bug is a darkling beetle (Zophobas morio). It is attached to a miniature wireless backpack, with electrodes implanted into its antennae. {%recommended 1539%}

By sending electrical pulses through the antennae Thang and his colleagues are able control when, where and how the insect moves. It is capable of precise, graded responses, which include walking backwards.

“The flexibility provided by employing the insect’s own muscular system and joints helps the cyborg insect to easily adapt to any unfamiliar terrains,” explains Thang. 

Weighing only one gram, the cyborginsect could one day be deployed in a wide range of surveillance and monitoring tasks.

“In contrast to the traditional legged robots,” the team concludes in its paper, “this robot is of low cost, easy to construct, simple to control, and has ultra-low power consumption.”

Please login to favourite this article.