Russian scientists and engineers have developed a micro-robot that looks and moves like an insect and can carry a tiny camera, the country's Baltic Federal Immanuel Kant University announced on Thursday.
The team being the project said that they plan to supply a sample of the bug-like robots to the armed forces next week, once they develop a prototype in camouflage colors.
The robot is 4 inches long and can move at the speed of 12 inches per second. It is equipped with a photosensitive sensor, as well as contact and contactless sensors meaning it can track obstacles while travelling. It can act as a scout and perform reconnaissance.
The current prototype can only move for 20 minutes at a time, but is intended by December to be able to move for longer, either autonomously or to follow a predetermined route.
According to the Kant University in Kaliningrad, where the robot was developed, it was designed to emulate the Blaberus Giganteus cockroach prevalent in South America. The developers usec a specimen of the similar-looking Blaberus Craniifer during development.
Scientists spent the first two months of development observing the movements of real cockroaches to ensure the robot's own movements were as insect-like and organic as possible.
Although the prototype does not currently have a camera mounted on it, it can carry a load of up to 10 grams that scientists say would be enough to carry a small portable camera, with which it will be able to penetrate hard-to-reach areas.
Developers from the university say that the Russian military are already interested in the project and a camouflage version of the robot will be submitted to the armed forces for testing next week. The university believes that the project can be very useful to Russia's emergency services, who are in charge of search and rescue missions in the country and often work in zones where infrastructure has been damaged.