If you watch science fiction movies, the robots of the future look like us. The truth is, though, many tasks go better when robots don’t look like us. Sometimes they are unique to a particular job or sometimes it is useful to draw inspiration from something other than a human being. One professor at Johns Hopkins along with some students decided to look at spider crickets as an inspiration for a new breed of jumping robots.
It’s name is Blaberus Cranifer, or Death’s Head for short. Light has now been shed on this once secret project built by the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University for a “vague” Russian organization. The little guy has a 20 minute battery life and can carry a 10 gram payload. Which comes in handy when you want to sneak a camera into hard to reach places. Other requirements were for it to look and behave like a real live insect.
It’s an impressive project considering it was built from scratch in only seven months time. Its intricate gears and other mechanical features would require the hands of a skilled watch maker to construct. Alternatively, one can control live insects such as controlling a roach’s brain or hooking up some radio controls to a live beetle. But building robotic insects is still pretty cool.
Be sure to check out the well made video detailing some of the project’s build process.
Producing micro robotics is not yet easy or cost-effective, but why do we need to when we can just control the minds of cockroaches? A team or researchers from North Carolina State University is calling this augmented Madagascar Hissing cockroach an Insect Biobot in their latest research paper (PDF). It’s not the first time the subject has come up. There have already been proofs in research and even more amateur endeavors. But the accuracy and control seen in the video after the break is beyond compare.
The roach is being controlled to perfectly follow a line on the floor. One of the things that makes this iteration work so well is that the microcontroller includes a new type of ADC-based feedback loop for the stimulation of the insect brain. This helps to ensure that the roach will not grow accustom to the stimulation and stop responding to it. Since this variety of insect can live for about two years, this breakthrough makes it into a reusable tool. We’re not sure what that tool will be used for, but perhaps the next plague of insects will be controlled by man, and not mother nature.
[Fotoopa] keeps churning out new iterations of his laser-triggered camera rig. This is his latest, which he calls the 2011 setup. Regular readers will remember that we just covered a different version back in November; that one was the 2010 rendition. It had two DSLR cameras offset by 90 degrees with mirrors to face forward. This time around he has gone back to the single camera setup which was what he used on the first and second versions seen way back in 2008.
Whew, that’s a lot of links to specialty DSLR hardware. Let’s bring it back to this newest model (the link at the top). The biggest improvement is the shutter delay between when the laser beam is tripped and the image is take. [Fotoopa] reports that he’s managed to reduce that time down to 3.3 milliseconds. This is thanks to an external shutter replacement which improves on the stock shutter’s 52 millisecond delay.
For those that are seeing this for the first time. [Fotoopa] uses this rig to photograph insects in motion. A laser trip wire is responsible for triggering the shutter, and it does so with stunning results!
We’ve seen so many stories in the news about the growing plague of bedbugs. It kind of infuriates us because the spin of these “news” pieces is always that we’re going to have to live with these insects and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. Bullcorn! [Ed Nisley] was dealt a bum hand in the form of a bedbug infestation but instead of losing his mind he used it to get himself out of the mess. One of the steps in the dis-insecting process was to develop a bedbug killing box that raises the contents above the kill temperature for the pests. He built an insulated chamber, with a grate to raise the target material off the bottom and allow for heat exchange around all edges of the item. Light bulb combinations of 60, 100, and 120 Watts were tested along with a fan for air circulation. He graphed the results and plans to use what he learned to build a more efficient heater for the box.
But the hot box isn’t his only defense. His household developed barriers, blocking the insects by height or with a sticky zone. Check out the collection of his bedbug posts and stop being afraid of these things! We can fight back and we can do it using common items and ingenuity.
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”
When we saw the video of the Phasma insectoid robot above, we immediately thought of the iSprawl. After checking out their site, it turns out that the two are connected in some way, we’re not sure how, maybe just inspiration. The Phasma gives us a little more insight into the construction of the bot. The photos are highly detailed so you can see how the drive works, using the sliding cables to extend the “feet”. It seems quite agile in the video. The drive system, working off of a single cam seems like it would be easy to convert to steam. We would love to see that.
[via the pink tentacle]