Scientists have created a cyborg beetle which gallops on command

Hybrid robot galloping with both front legs

Researchers in Singapore have created cyborg insect using implanted electrodes to control the leg muscles of an African beetle.

In a world first, the researchers show that their system, powered by a 1.5 volt battery, can control the beetle’s step and walking speed.

The researchers at Nanyang Technological University call the cyborg an insect–computer hybrid robot.

The biobot’s eight muscles in its two front legs were electrically stimulated via eight pairs of implanted electrodes, directing the beetle to a gallop.

“We have constructed an insect–computer hybrid legged robot using a living beetle,” the scientists write.

The cyborg beetle with wires connected to its front leg muscles.

“Different muscles were individually stimulated in a predefined sequence … by a microcontroller. By varying the duration of the stimulation sequences, we successfully controlled the step frequency hence the beetle’s walking speed.

“To the best of our knowledge, this paper presents the first demonstration of living insect locomotion control with a user-adjustable walking gait, step length and walking speed.”

The research is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

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