Say goodbye to unsightly strips of sticky bug film and give a welcome to this chic robot version of a Venus flytrap.
Why not just use regular Venus flytrap? Number one, if you've ever owned one as a little kid, they are harder to rear than you would think. Most people are also inclined to poke the inside of the specialized leaves -- the part that senses a bug and clamps down -- because it's fun. But these leaves only clamp shut about six times during the plant's lifetime; if you over stimulate it without a bug meal, it could likely die.
Also, the robotic Venus fly trap would be able to catch many more bugs than a live Venus flytrap, which usually only eats 12 bugs during a growing season.
But scientists see even more of a use for such robotic technology than just ridding us of pesky bugs. They believe it could be used to power, not only the trap itself, but other items.
Not one, but two prototypes have been created that mimic the Venus flytrap. New Scientist reports that scientists at Seoul National University in South Korea used shape memory materials, which after the weight of a fly causes a spring to snap the camp shut reopen with an electrical current through the spring. And, researchers at the University of Maine used membranes with gold electrodes, which bent in one direction or another based on a current passing through it. According to New Scientist, when the bug lands on one of the "leaves" it produces voltage that catalyzes another power source to change the charge and causing the leaves to clamp shut.
A third group, researchers at Ecobot, have technology that can digest bugs, making this robotic Venus flytrap technology of interest to them. This technology, as well as one of the prototypes, have yet to be combined to test if it could work.