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Self-powered cyborg cockroaches are coming

Emily Price
02.03.14
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Soon you might start wishing there were more cockroaches in your neighborhood. Osaka University and the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have co-developed a fuel cell that could be used to create a wireless sensor network comprised of a league of self-powered, high-tech insects.

Researchers have already been successful in controlling battery-operated roaches and using them as sensors. With the new fuel cell, sensors are instead powered by the insect's body fluid (trehalose) through a small needle inserted in its torso. The technology, which has been in the works for a while, lets the battery-free bugs work without needing anything but a nibble of leftover pizza. A 3D-printed prototype of the cell produced 50.2 microwatts of power from a single cockroach, an impressive feat for a bug most of us would squash on sight.