Robot Cockroach Produces Its Own PowerBy: Zach Walton - January 30, 2012
I think we can all agree that cockroaches are pretty gross. Science has always stuck up for the disgusting vermin and are once again championing the little guys as the first step towards cyborgs.
Science has found a way, according to MSNBC, to convert the sugars in a cockroaches belly into electricity through a fuel cell. Once fuel cells are shrunk enough to be non-invasive to cockroaches, they can be implanted to power sensors or recording devices.
Daniel Scherson, a chemist at Case Western Reserve University, explains how the nightmare fuel will be powered. A rechargeable battery is inserted alongside a biofuel cell that would store the small amount of energy it generates.
“If you want to be futuristic, one may use the energy stored to try to control the neurological system of the cockroach and then you might be able to (control) the cockroach (with) a joystick,” Scherson told MSNBC.
The alarming research points to a future of cockroach spies. Controllable cockroaches scurrying around being not only disgusting, but also spy equipment from the CIA.
Looking deeper into the research, the scientists reveal that a cockroach’s diet is the main power source behind the electricity it can generate. This makes other forms of harnessing electricity, such as through movement, obsolete.
The fuel cell developed by the team uses a series of reactions by enzymes to break down the sugar into electricity. The first enzyme breaks down the sugar produced by the cockroach into two simpler sugars. The second enzyme oxidizes the two simple sugars. This releases electrons that are funneled together to electrodes.
The team tested it by inserting prototype electrodes into the belly of a female cockroach. The biofeul cell 0.2 volts of electricity. While not a huge amount, it’s the first baby step to the creation of robot cockroach monsters.
The scientists have noble goals for now with this new found technology. They hope to equip social insects like bees or ants with sensors that can detect dangerous chemicals.
The battery operating at 0.2 volts is enough to send a message by a few inches. Theoretically, you could line up a bunch of ants and play a wicked game of telephone to spy on potential criminals.
This does bring into question what science will do once they develop true robot cockroaches or ants that can’t be killed by radiation or big guns. The world will not end with zombies, but rather robot cockroaches. Regardless, the technology is still pretty impressive. It just terrifies me.