As robot technology advances, one important area of common concern is how to power these bots. The same is true for many different areas of technology. Exoskeleton suits are under development, and some already work great, but keeping these suits powered for more than five minutes seems to be a big drawback. The easiest approach is to increase the battery size or the number of batteries supplying the system. However, this can weigh down bots and exoskeletons and increase the amount of energy needed to power the system. Overall, this defeats the purpose of adding the batteries in the first place.
It is clear that a new method of energy is needed to power robots. Scientists and researchers have been working to develop robots that can harvest energy to recharge their batteries. Such robots should be able to last longer in threatening environments or in areas where little human care can be given. One such robot currently being tested is the EcoBot.
Developed by Chris Melhuish and a team of researchers at the Bristol Robotics Lab in the UK, the EcoBot has been built to derive energy from organic matter, including flies, old vegetables, or even human waste. It was originally developed and tested by feeding it flies. Unfortunately, to get flies lured into the bot, it needed to smell like sewage. A bacterial enzyme inside the original version would break down the fly's chitin exoskeleton. Sugar from the chitin would be metabolized to release electrons. Sulphides would combine with electrons, migrate to the anode, and release the electrons to create a potential difference between the anode and the cathode.
The story continues on Design News.