Researchers create robots controlled by moths using a styrofoam ball

Feb 7, 2013
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Researchers create robots controlled by moths using a styrofoam ball

Simultaneously creating something awesome and setting up a real-world scenario for a future B-rated horror movie, researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a robot that is controlled by moths using styrofoam balls. You can check out a brief video of the moth-become-machine wonder after the break.

Over the course of the project, 14 silkmoth males were used in the robots, all of which demonstrated an uncanny ability to control the machine. The moths were placed in an area with a female sex pheromone present, and as is demonstrated in the video, they successfully navigated to the source, despite the fact that the researchers didn't always make it easy.

As part of the project, one of the robots was given a turning bias that caused it to veer to the right when navigated. Despite this obstacle, the moth on board still managed to correct for the problem and successfully take the robot to the source of the pheromone. This is all part of a project tasked with improving autonomous robots.

According to Noriyasu Ando, part of the research team: "Most chemical sensors, such as semiconductor sensors, have a slow recovery time and are not able to detect the temporal dynamics of odours as insects do. Our results will be an important indication for the selection of sensors and models when we apply the insect sensory-motor system to artificial systems."

[via Extreme Tech]


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