Russian scientists have created what they say is the smallest robot ever, and it comes in the form of a lowly cockroach. The robot walks like the insect and, excepting up-close examination, looks like it, too. Unlike real cockroaches, though, this small robot could serve humanity is some important — and maybe bothersome — ways. As one example, robots could slip through cracks to search for survivors under rubble.
The robotic cockroach was introduced by researchers at Russia’s Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University; right now it exists at the prototype stage, but presumably development continues to make a finalized version. The device was developed by a company whose name has not been revealed at this time.
The company that designed the cockroach wanted to ensure its creation was realistic — it wanted the robo-roach to not only look like a cockroach, but also walk like one. That made the task difficult, but the end product is more notable for it. Said one of the engineers behind the device, Aleksey Belousov:
For example Berkeley University has been working on their cockroach for the past four years, but they didn’t have to make it look like an insect, so it’s faster than ours. But it can’t turn at speed and it doesn’t look like a real cockroach at all. Whereas we were specifically told to create a cockroach robot on time and on budget.
The budget was $22,500 USD, according to RT.
At this time, the cockroach robot can operate for 20 minutes on a charge. Additional work is being done to improve its features and performance.