When it comes to search and rescue operations, developers are always coming up with innovative new ways to reach survivors. Breath-sniffing electro dogs, Gumby doing the robot limbo and a debris-swimming robot inspired by the sandfish lizard have all been recent prototypes designed to save the day.
The latest project comes from a team of computer and electrical engineers from the University of Michigan who are mounting miniature cameras on the backs of small insects. Researchers believe the insect's ability to get into small spaces could help locate people faster.
Led by professor Khalil Najafi, the project's technology is designed to take advantage of the insect's kinetic energy to power microphones and cameras mounted to the insects. Najafi's team has already developed a device that can harness the energy of the green June beetle's wing movement. Next, the team wants to put tiny generators on the beetle's wings to create enough power to fully operate a microphone and camera.
Entitled the Hybrid Insect Micro-Electromechanical Systems Program, the project is funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
As the research team attempts to secure patents and funding for the project, they hope to conduct their first insect test flights sometime within the year.