Japanese scientists published a research in which promising advances are presumed to use cockroaches turned into cyborgs for urban search and rescue applications in case of tremors like those that have hit various states of Mexico from September 19 to 22, 2022.
According to the study published in the journal npj Flexible Electronicsand taken up by Nature, the cyborgs are integrations of machines and organisms that can be used to substitute defective body parts of an organism to perform functions that exceed their normal capabilities, so cockroaches they could become rescuers.
How would cockroaches be turned into cyborg rescuers?
As part of the experiments, researchers led by Dr. Takao Someya used Madagascar hissing cockroaches (Gromphadorhina portentosa), to which a series of electronic components were placed on the dorsal side to be able to control them remotely.
in the thorax of cyborg insects they were fitted with a control module consisting of wireless communication circuitry, stimulation voltage control circuitry, booster circuitry, and a lithium polymer battery supported by a 3D-printed soft backpack that followed the curved surface of the chest .
It was attached to the abdomen of the cockroaches a module of organic solar cells 4 µm thick. The power generated by the ultra-thin organic solar cell under simulated sunlight was increased to 4.2 volts by using a booster circuit to charge the battery it supplied. Energy to the wireless locomotion control module.
The signs of control wirelessly transferred from the external server using Bluetooth. Stimulation signals were applied via cables to wirelessly control the movements of the cockroaches.
- When electrical stimulation was applied to the right cervix, the insect made the right turn locomotion and vice versa.
Are insects harmed by being transformed into cyborgs?
Kenjirou Fukudaone of the researchers from the RIKEN Research Institute, told the Spanish newspaper The country that the cockroaches they are not condemned to live with the device attached to their chest: “After the mission, we can remove it and there is a chance that the insect will live normally.”
The Japanese expert also clarified that insects cyborg they feel no pain, and therefore “there is no need for ethical approval.” A very different scenario if this type of experiments with mammals. That is one of the main reasons for using this type of species.
What are the applications and challenges for these cockroaches?
According to the statements of the researchers themselves, the cyborg cockroaches They are remote controlled live insects, so they can be the solution to survey dangerous areas, monitor the environment and even identify people under the rubble after a earthquake or any natural disaster.
Although the results are promising, it is still necessary to find a way to insects be artificially guided for long periods of time, for which wireless control of their paws and a battery to power the system. The solar power battery It is the first step to achieve it.