Scientists from Nanyang Technological University and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a method for regulating the gait of radio-controlled bronze. The work is published in the Royal Society Interface.
In their work, scientists used four beetles-bronzovok type Mecynorhina torquata . Using the motion capture system, the researchers tracked the motility of the insect legs and implanted neuromuscular electrodes into the anterior pair of legs, allowing each leg to be monitored separately. Thanks to the stimulation of individual muscles, it was possible to achieve different speeds of movement and different gait in insects – the beetles were even forced to move at a gallop.
The authors of the work note that this is the first known case where a user can control the gait, speed and step length of an insect-cyborg. In the future, developers are planning to refine the method to control all six legs of the insect simultaneously.According to the researchers, the creation of such robotic devices based on live insects has several significant advantages compared to the creation of robots of similar size. First, the assembly of a complex size is a costly technical and financial task. In addition, insects more efficiently consume energy compared to robots, and developers do not need to solve the laborious task of accurately programming each movement – the insect can itself flap its wings and move its paws, and when approaching the obstacle, you can simply turn off the control system so that the beetle overcomes difficult plot.
Physiological features of flight control beetle scientists described as early as last year. Then the researchers learned to control the flight of the beetle and described the results in a work published in Current Biology .
The very idea of connecting insects to electronics is not new – in 2013, Kickstarter successfully collected the necessary amount of the project RoboRoach. Within the campaign, anyone could purchase a set of components for turning a cockroach into a radio-controlled Bluetooth-cyborg.