There is no shortage of brave humans that will rush into a hazardous or dangerous area in order to help people, but the problem is that they often don’t know what they are getting into until they are there on site. One day soon, that may no longer be a concern thanks to research conducted at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering, which could have insects monitoring hazardous situations before sending humans into harm’s way.
Professor Khalil Najafi and doctoral student Erkan Aktakka are looking at ways to harvest energy from insects, hoping to make a better cyborg. Imagine an insect not only carrying a camera, microphone, or other sensors and equipment on a mini backpack, but also powering this equipment themselves.
Do you have a dangerous site, where a man is trapped and hurt? Maybe he’s in a deep crevice under some rubble and you can’t get to him. Send in the Beetle with the camera and the microphone. Once the insect makes its way down there, you can inspect the situation visually and maybe even speak to the person directly, getting critical information on his health and inspecting the area. That’s just one of many scenarios where a cyborg insect can help save the day.
The idea is that energy would be collected from the insect’s body heat or movements. This kinetic energy is converted into electricity, prolonging the battery life of the device. It’s the battery that powers the camera, gas sensor, or anything else you want to add. They have also designed a piezoelectric generator to maximize the power output.
One day soon you may thank a cyborg bug for saving your life.