Universities Envision Flying Beetle Swarms; But Crawl Before You Fly

Researchers at Nanyang Technical University and the University of California at Berkley wanted to answer the question: how do you make a small drone that can fly all day? The problem is that a drone needs a battery or other energy source, but a big battery needs a big drone.

Their answer? Take a giant beetle and strap enough electronics onboard to deliver tiny shocks to direct the insect’s flight. The tiny shocks don’t take much power and once the beetle is on course, no further shock is necessary unless the human pilot needs to correct the direction. Recent work allows a similar controller to control each leg of the beetle, turning it into a more versatile flying or walking cyborg.

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Cardboard hexapod gets around with three motors

Here’s a lesson in doing a lot with very little. [Oldrobot] built this hexapod using cardboard for most of the pieces. He still had the box from his vacuum clear and it just happened to have a large black area the makes the top of the beetle look like it’s been painted.

The control board is from an old radio controlled airplane. Since RC airplanes used servos for flight control, it was a snap to hook up the three that make the bug go. One controls the set of middle legs which lift the body and change which of the propulsion legs are in contact with the ground. The other two servers move pairs of the front or back legs. It uses the same concept as this other RC controller hexapod, but much less time went into crafting the chassis and legs.

As you can see in the video after the break, the control scheme isn’t the most intuitive. But once you get a hang of which stick orientation affects each leg movement the bot ends up having fairly precise steering.

Continue reading “Cardboard hexapod gets around with three motors”

Tailgating this car carries a heavy penalty

This hack seems simple enough:

  1. 1. Open hatchback
  2. 2. Insert jet engine
  3. 3. Profit

Actually, the guy who added a jet engine to a VW Beetle has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford. He claims this is street legal, and even has a snapshot of the police trying to figure out what to charge him with after stopping him on the road. There’s plenty of details and we’re not questioning [Ron Patrick’s] competence, but having the intake for the turbine inside the cab of the vehicle seems a bit insane. He remarks that “it’s a little windy but not unbearable”… yeah.

One the same page you’ll find his dual-jet modified scooter. The starting cost there is considerably less, especially if you build your own ram jets.

[Thanks Goldscott]

Radio controlled beetle flight footage

Earlier this year we were amazed when University of California researchers controlled a beetle via electrical implants. The video available at the time of the original report showed beetles tethered in place while electrical stimuli was applied via the chip. New video of free flight is has now been posted. Although the motion is rather sporadic, it is obvious that simple commands to start flight, stop flight, and turn left or right are having their intended effect. Check out this cyborg action after the break. Is DARPA one step closer to unleashing legions of insect warriors on unsuspecting masses? Continue reading “Radio controlled beetle flight footage”

Radio controlled beetle

Scientists at the university of California have managed to implant a chip in a giant flower beetle that makes it respond to commands from the computer. They can tell it to fly, stop, turn left and turn right.  The controls are done through its optic nerves and wing muscles. Though the article states that flight signals are sent to the optic lobes and steering is done through stimulation of the wing muscles, the video shows steering being accomplished through optic lobe stimulation.

Though we’re sure there’s some grand scientific goal behind this, we can’t help but think (hope) that we’ll be seeing giant robot controlled beetle battles with lasers and rockets.