Robotic Venus Flytrap Spells Doom for Robotic Flies
Man, just when we were getting close to making actual robot insects, some thoughtless researchers had to go and invent a robotic insect-eating plant. Sigh. The artificial venus flytrap in the pic (which can apparently be abbreviated "VFT") is a creation of Mohsen Shahinpoor from the University of Maine.
Like a real VFT, this artificial plant has an intelligence of sorts, in the form of ionic polymeric metal composite trigger hairs on the inside of its polymer leaves. When something (like a tasty insect) touches on one of the hairs, a copper electrode triggers the leaves to snap shut in 0.3 second, and a series of teeth interlock to keep whatever the robot has caught from escaping.
For now, this robot flytrap only snacks on the old-fashioned biological sorts of flies. It also doesn't currently have the infrastructure required to turn said flies into robot food, but that's just a matter of hooking up a microbial digester like this one to turn bugs into robot fuel.