first published on February 11, 2016 by Will
Scientists at Berkeley are working in collaboration with the Army Research Laboratory on a program called Micro Autonomous System and Technology (MAST), and they have announced that they have successfully created a palm-sized robotic cockroach.
The researchers were interested in mimicking real cockroaches’ incredible physical attributes and abilities. Roaches are able to infiltrate very small spaces by flattening themselves out to a quarter of their normal height. They can do this while sprinting, without reducing their speed.
From a practical application standpoint, this device could be used to search rubble piles of collapsed buildings and other disaster areas for survivors. However, this is an Army program, so it is more likely going to be used as a tactical asset, gathering intelligence through reconnaissance and surveillance. The device could gain unnoticed entry into an enemy headquarters and relay information, or just as easily be used by combat troops clearing occupied buildings. By sending the robotic roach under a door or through a crack in the wall, soldiers will be able to know what awaits them in the next room before bursting through the fatal funnel.
The robo cockroach certainly isn’t the military’s first endeavor into the field of robotic bugs. DARPA created a robot fly about the size of a quarter that, when in flight, would gain very little, if any, attention by passersby.
In an almost unsettling technological advancement, DARPA also created insect cyborgs in which a living organism is controlled through electrical impulses. The following video shows a beetle that has been fitted with a device that allows it to be remotely controlled.