Researchers have developed a miniature robotic camera that can be attached on the back of a Beetle

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Researchers have developed a miniature robotic camera that can be attached on the back of a Beetle

Researchers from the University of Washington have now developed a miniature robotic camera and attached the device onto the back of a live beetle, offering a unique view into the world of the tiny creature.

The robotic camera attacked to the beetle can stream up to five frames per second of low-resolution, black and white footage to a nearby smartphone. The camera sits on a mechanical arm that can rotate 60 degrees, allowing a viewer to capture a high-resolution, panoramic shot or track a moving object.

According to the reports, the entire camera rig weighs just 250 milligrams, which is about a tenth of the weight of a playing card. While the sensor itself is low resolution, capturing just 160 by 120-pixel images, it is mounted on a mechanical arm that can shift from side to side. That allows the camera to look side to side and scan the environment, just like a beetle, and capture a higher-resolution panoramic image.

To conserve battery life, an accelerometer has been included in the system, so that it takes photos when the insect is moving. In this way, the camera could be operated for six hours on a full charge.

A tiny camera robot

[Image source: BBC]

The beetles were not harmed and “lived for at least a year” after the end of the experiment. The researchers used what they had learned to produce an independent insect-sized camera robot. The team claims it is the world’s “smallest terrestrial, power-autonomous robot with a wireless vision”.

Instead of wheels, the robot moves by vibration and can travel up to three centimeters a second. Shyam Gollakota, the senior author of the research, acknowledged that tiny camera robots could raise surveillance concerns. He said it is important to put such inventions in the public domain so people are aware of the risks and can start coming up with solutions to address them.

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