Robotic engineering continues to evolve swiftly, yet developing a robot that can detect and pursue odors has proved difficult for the science. Shunsuke SHIGAKI, an assistant professor at Osaka University, seeks to address the problem by analyzing the scent-detection abilities of silk moths. To understand how airflow or sight affect their perception of scents, he built a VR unit for insects in order to gather data. The algorithm created from it allowed him to program a robot with similar odor-detection capabilities. Now, he attempts to give it enough environmental adaptability to navigate obstacles, or operate outdoors. In this episode, we follow SHIGAKI's efforts to create a high-tech robot with abilities learned from actual organisms, so that it might eventually be put to use in search and rescue operations.
The silk moth robot assistant professor SHIGAKI developed using biomimicry
Assistant professor SHIGAKI holding a silk moth
The insect VR unit designed by assistant professor SHIGAKI
Assistant professor SHIGAKI tests the functions of his silk moth robot