Behold the Moth That Drives a Robot

February 6th, 2013 | by Michael Keller

Engineers around the world have been working on making environmental watchdog robots that can sense and quickly adapt to changing conditions around them. If successful, these machines could autonomously search out chemical spills and leaks where people can’t go.

It’s a problem that has really been bugging a research team at the University of Tokyo.

To develop a more advanced system that can navigate to emission sources even in adverse conditions, Kanzaki-Takahashi Laboratory scientists are putting the domesticated silkmoth in the driver’s seat.

They attached an adult male to a small two-wheeled robot and gave the creature the keys to drive to a distant drop of sex pheromone usually emitted by females. Then they turned on the fans to waft the irresistible hormone toward him.

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