8. EcoBot: the robot who eats flies
A revolution in robotics. The robot, developed at the University of Bristol, is designed to power itself by eating flies. Feed the EcoBot a dead bluebottle every so often, and it will digest the insect in one of its eight microbial fuel cells, each filled with sewage slurry teeming with bacteria. A sugar compound in the fly's exoskeleton is extracted and metabolised by the bacteria to generate energy, which is turned into electricity. 'The idea is that it could go places we don't or can't go and send back information,' says Ioannis Ieropoulos of the EcoBot team. It might take temperature readings, or toxic gas measurements. For now EcoBot's achievements seem modest. In endurance tests, eight flies lasted the bot for 12 days, but it only moved for a few seconds every 14 minutes. And its developers aren't sure how it will attract its food. It's not yet WALL-E, nor is it autonomous, but it's on the way.