Here’s one from the ‘your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should’ file.
An international team of researchers – because in 2022, even supervillains need to look internationally for talent – have created the world’s first solar-powered “remote-controlled cyborg cockroaches”.
“These achievements… will help make the use of cyborg insects a practical reality,” the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research boasted in a press release this week, apparently unaware of how most people would react to the prospect of half-robot critters on “time-sensitive missions”.
The ethical challenges clearly overcome, the team tackled the technical challenge of affixing batteries powerful enough to run a cockroach that aren’t too bulky. They didn’t want one that needed regular recharging, nor one that ran out, returning full control back to the cockroach.
“Nobody wants a suddenly out-of-control team of cyborg cockroaches roaming around.”
No, they don’t. So to keep them squarely under the control of the Borg Queen – sorry, the scientists – they built a tiny “organic solar cell module… mounted on the dorsal side of the abdomen”.
The body-mounted ultrathin organic solar cell module achieves a power output of 17.2 mW, which is more than 50 times larger than the power output of current state-of-the art energy harvesting devices on living insects,” said top henchman Kenjiro Fukuda.
This allowed them, after 30 minutes’ of charging under the sun, to control the cockroaches’ movements.
“A hybrid electronic system of rigid and flexible elements in the thorax and ultrasoft devices in the abdomen appears to be an effective design for cyborg cockroaches,” said Fukuda.
And, somewhat ominously: “Moreover, since abdominal deformation is not unique to cockroaches, our strategy can be adapted to other insects like beetles, or perhaps even flying insects like cicadas in the future.”
Oh, great. Check out the full horrors here.