View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. Technology
January 16, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:24pm


By CBR Staff Writer

It’s been 20 years since people first started talking about biochips, but a team at Tokyo University has decided that to do it all nature’s way simply takes too long – why create a source of maneuverable motive power from scratch when the insect world teems with just the thing, fully formed. Instead, the team under Assistant Professor Isao Shimoyama, head of the bio-robot research team at Tokyo University, cuts off the unwanted bits of cockroaches – the wings and the antennae – and surgically implants a micro-robotic backpack, which weighs about twice as much as the insect – in their place. Using a remote control, the researchers are then able to manipulate the mutilated roach’s movements. Within a few years, Shimoyama told the Associated Press man in Tokyo, electronically controlled insects carrying mini-cameras or other sensory devices could be used for sensitive missions such as crawling through earthquake rubble to search for victims, or slipping under doors on spying missions. Before surgery, researchers gas the roach with carbon dioxide. Wings and antennae are whipped off, and where the antennae used to be, researchers fit pulse-emitting electrodes which can be excited to make the roach turn left, turn right, scamper forward or jump backwards. A backpack-fitted roach can survive for several months, but it becomes less sensitive to the electronic pulses over time. The Japanese government reckons the experiment is worth $5m over five years and has split the funds between Shimoyama’s team and biologists at Tsukuba University. So one day, roaches could be saving our lives – if only we’re not too squeamish to invite bio-robotic roaches into our homes, and not too scrupulous to cut off their antennae.

Content from our partners
Green for go: Transforming trade in the UK
Manufacturers are switching to personalised customer experience amid fierce competition
How many ends in end-to-end service orchestration?

Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.