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Cyborg Beetles Powered By Their Own Wings

Cyborg Beetles Powered By Their Own Wings

Cyborg beetles generate their own electricity to become spying micro aerial vehicles…

Unmanned vehicles are now performing many tasks that usually put human lives at risk, and quite rightly so. But to fully enable these unmanned bots to cruise around unnoticed, a certain amount of stealth must be maintained, and for that reason engineers have been working hard to reduce the size of UAVs by developing micro-air-vehicles (MAV) which are often modeled after insects.

However, building a micro flying bot is no easy feat thanks to the weight of the battery required to power the tiny drone.

cyborg insect

Cyborg Insect Generates Own Electricity

Image Credit: Aktakka, et al, PhysOrg Via PopSci, 2011.

Researchers then looked into developing cyborg insects, which were implanted with mechanisms that could be controlled by human operators. Unfortunately, the power consumption of the neural hardware couldn’t be reduced sufficiently, and the battery problem remained.

But now a team of Michigan researchers thinks they might have finally solved the problem by harnessing the power generated by the insects own wing motion.

To test the concept, the researchers mounted piezoelectric generators on the wing of a tethered Green June Beetle. When the beetle flaps its wings, the energy scavenging generators absorb the resonant frequencies and transform them into electricity.

In tests the researchers were able to generate e 45 µW (that’s microwatt, or one one-thousandth of a milliwatt) of power. Furthermore, they are confident that this amount can be increased if they implanted the generators directly into the insect’s flight muscles. This would provide enough power for the neural-hardware while eliminating the need for an on-board battery.

The team is now working on ways to improve the efficiency of harvesting small vibrations, and should the research continue to prove successful, cyborg insects may indeed become the military and intelligence agencies new best friend.

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