I’m a big fan of robots that look like insects and spiders (as you can probably tell from this series of posts), but even I did a double take when I saw this article about a robotic vehicle being driven by a male moth.
The busy moth navigated to the source of some female moth pheromones using a styrofoam track ball to “drive” its mechanical exoskeleton. The pheromone and robot were placed at opposite ends of an 1800mm wind tunnel, and all 14 insects used in the study were able to successfully navigate to the source of the pheromone.
“The simple and robust odor tracking behaviour of the silkmoth allows us to analyze its neural mechanisms from the level of a single neuron to the moth’s overall behavior. By creating an ‘artificial brain’ based on the knowledge of the silkmoth’s individual neurons and tracking behaviour, we hope to implement it into a mobile robot that will be equal to the insect-controlled robot developed in this study,” said Noriyasu Ando, lead researcher at the University of Tokyo.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo (who are likely more than familiar with the unusual abilities of moths) conducted this experiment to further their efforts in designing robots that can sense odors. You can read more about their research here.
Source: Popular Science