DARPA is funding the research of miniature cameras and microphones that could be mounted like backpacks on beetles-turned-spies. That's not even the best part — the sensors will be powered by an insect's own wing movements, meaning fully independent insects able to explore the world's most dangerous places.
It makes sense the same big idea people who are preparing to arm our future with legions of animal-like robots would also be behind the plan to power up beetles to crawl through disaster zones or onto battlefields!
The process of harvesting an insect's kinetic energy from its own wing movements is known as 'energy scavenging.' The research team, computer and electrical engineers from the University of Michigan, has already created a device that was able to generate power from a Green June beetle's wing movements during a tethered flight.
It is reported a final prototype will be mounted and trialed on a live, untethered flight next year and it is expected it will achieve enough power to operate the planned onboard information gathering backpack.
Professor Khalil Najafi, who is developing the new technology, told The Telegraph: "One of the main constraints in the development of Micro-Air-Vehicles (MAVs) is the limited weight and volume reserved on the device for a power supply. Energy scavenging from an insect's high frequency body movements holds great advantages such as unlimited source of power over the insect's lifetime, and no need for recharging."
The project marrying insects with technology is officially called the Hybrid Insect Micro Electromechanical Systems program, but they had us with "Hybrid Insect."
Via The Telegraph