It sounds like something ripped straight out of a Cold War nightmare — Russian roboticists have invented a robot that looks and moves just like a cockroach. And if that’s not enough to make your skin crawl, they designed their bot after Blaberus craniifer, the death’s head cockroach.
Researchers at the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad recently revealed their miniature robot to the world, and the internet is equal parts impressed and disturbed. Everyone knows cockroaches will be the only survivors after a nuclear apocalypse; do we really have to start worrying about robot versions, too? Even a typical household cockroach can go 30 days without food and seven days without water. In some cases, cockroaches have even survived up to a week without a head. Fortunately, the robo-roach isn’t quite so indestructible — at least not yet.
Despite the not-so-cuddly exoskeleton, the researchers insist they had a noble goal in mind. The official purpose of the project was to invent a tiny robot that could one day help identify victims trapped under rubble in an emergency. And so the lead researcher, Aleksey Belousov, was challenged to design a robot that looked like a roach, moved in a similar way, and was the same size.
To accomplish this feat, Belousov chose the death’s head as his model, whose three-inch length gave his team some extra wiggle room on their specs. The project also required creative problem solving, as the team developed many of the roach-bot’s parts from scratch. With a budget of just $22,000, they couldn’t afford to buy specialized miniature parts from other robotics labs.
When they were done building, the final product wasn’t quite as small as an actual cockroach, but they did give it a realistic shell and antennae. Although the robot is just 10 centimeters long, the researchers claim it has been clocked at speeds of 30 cm per second. Plus, it can crawl up your back and through your nightmares for 20 minutes before it needs to be recharged.
And if the phrase Russian death robot cockroach gives you pause, it’s for good reason. The team is reportedly now working on a prototype for the Russian military.