UAVs, biobots for mapping unexplored territories
Researchers at North Carolina State University, USA, have developed a combination of software and hardware that will allow them to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and insect cyborgs, or biobots, to map large, unfamiliar areas such as collapsed buildings after a disaster.
Edgar Lobaton, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and co-author of the paper, says, “The idea is to release a swarm of sensor-equipped biobots, like remotely-controlled cockroaches, into a collapsed building or other dangerous, unmapped area.”
He adds, “Using remote-control technology, we would restrict the movement of the biobots to a defined area. That area would be defined by proximity to a beacon on a UAV. For example, the biobots may be prevented from going more than 20 metres from the UAV.”
The biobots would be allowed to move freely within a defined area and would signal researchers via radio waves whenever these would get close to each other. Custom software would then use an algorithm to translate biobot sensor data into a rough map of the unknown environment.