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Cyborg beetles walk the walk

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7:05pm, March 29, 2016
cyborg beetle

Cyborg insects aren’t new, but this beetle biobot comes with adjustable speeds and two walking gaits: tripod crawling, where three legs touch the ground at all times, and galloping, where pairs of legs move in synchrony.

Resistance may soon be futile. With machine implants worthy of a Star Trek villain, a new breed of beetle takes walking instructions from its human overlords.

Hirotaka Sato and his colleagues at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore inserted electrodes into flower beetles (Mecynorrhina torquata) to stimulate specific leg muscle groups. By altering the order of electrical zaps, the team could control a beetle’s gait. Changing the duration of the electrical signals also altered speed and step length, Sato and colleagues report in the March Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

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