Engineers in Russia's western exclave of Kaliningrad have developed a robot cockroach that can crawl into hard-to-reach spaces to gather intelligence, the Regnum news site said Thursday.
The "insect" was developed by a team of scientists and engineers at the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University and moves at a speed of 30 centimeters per second, Regnum reported.
It is equipped with light, touch and non-contact sensors that allow it to detect and avoid obstacles in its way and could be used to locate people trapped under rubble in emergency situations, the report said.
The robo-roach is 10 centimeters in length and can carry 10 grams of weight on its back — enough for a small surveillance camera, which has attracted the interest of the military, the report said.
The robot, which has a battery life of 20 minutes, was modeled on the South American cockroach species Blaberus Craniifer — also known as the death's head cockroach because of the skull-like pattern on its head, Regnum said.
"The order came from a Russian organization that said in its specification that the robot should be as similar to a cockroach as possible," the robot's main builder and professor at the university's Physics and Technology Institute, Alexei Belousov, was cited as saying by Regnum.
Belousov did not give the name of the contractor.