A robot that eats flies for energy??


OK, is this story for real? I can’t figure out from the article if such a robot has actually been built. (what is “proof-of-concept”?)

Have bacteria that generate electricity in a useful way been discovered? Unfortunately, the section which describes how the robot harnesses the electricity seems to have been left out, and there seems to be a grammatical error in the description of the bacteria.

I thought that energy storage and transfer is one of the biggest hurdles to new technology, why does it appear that these scientists have somehow solved this problem, using flies of all things, and that this is not bigger news? (nevermind the robot, what about other uses?)

No one is interested in the fly powered robot??

I am, I just have nothing useful to add.

Sure, why would you question CNN? In all probability the writer of the article may have ‘improved on the facts’ but this is a part of ongoing research in many areas.

A prototype, possibly crudely executed, to demonstrate the operation of a device.


Uh is it just me or wasn’t this in the news like a really long time ago, im talking 6 months or so? I don’ remember but the news story just popped up and then poof! vanished. I have no clue if it was true or not :confused:

OK I found a really old article about a prototype robot that lives off slugs…what the hell is going on¿


It’s an engineering term meaning roughly, “do enough work to verify that this is actually possible.” It may mean building various functional parts without assembling them into the final robot, or it may mean constructing a crude prototype that actually works. Typically, with proof-of-concept work the emphasis goes on doing the new and innovative stuff, without spending much time and money reinventing wheels.

Me too!

When I was getting my M.S. in mechanical engineering at USF, one of my classmates built a tiny robot that ate sugar. He was a guy who made his own beer, and he used his knowledge of fermentation to make the robot “digest” the sugar and produce methane gas, with enough pressure to run a tiny generator. We called it “flatulence power”. This was in 1997.

I can’t remember if we had a thread on this, or if one of our occasional robots, spidergoats, and monkey butler science threads covered it.

I believe the verdict was that a bigger model, equiped with steel jaws and teeth, capable of eating mice, or hunks of larger organic matter would be either a great advance for science and humanity, or the step that would loose killer robots on humanity and doom us all. The consensus was that we should build a bunch and find out.


Hmm, I wonder how hard it would be to work out a feces-powered robot.

This link illustrates one very good reason why one might question CNN.

Of course CNN isn’t the only news outlet that commits boners like this; it pales with anything reported by Fox in the early stages of the Iraq invasion. Healthy skepticism is always a good thing when dealing with the news media.

In this case, I don’t think there’s been any misreporting. They may be guilty of a bit of sensationalism by downplaying the severely limited capabilities of this prototype (a top speed of 10cm per hour isn’t very exciting unless you’re into robotics).

Yeah, but now the real question in my mind is: “how do you harness electricity from fly-eating bacteria?”

Does anyone have any information on electricity generating bacteria?