Feeds

Brits design fly-eating autobot

Uses human excrement to attract lunch

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Scientists at the University of the West of England have designed a potentially autonomous robot which feeds on flies attracted by human excrement and uses them to generate electricity, the New Scientist reports.

EcoBot II is reckoned to be a real step towards "release and forget" autonomous robots - albeit it a small one. At present, EcoBot II has to be fed bluebottles manually by its creators and can generate enough juice to travel at about 10 centimetres an hour.

The device uses the chitin in the fly's exoskeleton for fuel. The six-legged snacks are digested by bacteria in eight "microbial fuel cells" (anaerobic chambers filled with raw sewage slurry). The bacteria produce enzymes which break down the fly chitin, releasing sugars which the bacteria then absorb and metabolise. This latter process produces electrons which EcoBot II captures to generate electricity.

So far, so good. But the next challenge for the team is to enable its roving robotic insectivore to acquire its own lunch. While lead boffin Chris Melhuish admits that "one of the great things about flies is that you can get them to come to you", the sticky problem of how to capture them is yet to be resolved. The scientists say that a solution would perhaps "involve using a bottleneck-style flytrap with some form of pump to suck the flies into the digestion chambers".

EcoBot II is intended for use in inhospitable environments where humans might fear to tread - which is just as well. As the New Scientist notes, any fly-noshing autobot which deploys human excrement as a means to get its neck in the trough is going to "stink to high heaven". ®

Related stories

Qinetiq bags robot maker
Epson parades tea cup-sized flying robot
DARPA figures out how to run a $2m robot race

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.