Carnivorous Furniture: Rodent-Eating Robotics Generate Electricity
Animal activists, please look away. Designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau have recently unveiled the first carnivorous furniture. Take their digital wall clock, for instance, which doesn't run on electricity. Instead, it traps flies and uses their carcasses for energy to power the clock - talk about making time fly.
The inventors came to the idea from observing carnivorous plants similar to the well-known Venus fly trap. By attaching a conveyor belt of fly paper to the clock, trapped flies can be delivered to the clock's fuel cell. The researchers at Bristol Robotics figured if animals can use meat for energy, why can't robots? With that concept in mind, reasearchers developed carnivorous robots that use a microbial fuel cell which utilizes carcass-eating bacteria, that in so doing produces electrons, which can be converted to electricity. 8 fly carcasses can power one of these meat-eating robots for up to 12 days.
The clock is just a prototype, since it doesn't currently catch enough flies to power the motor for the fly paper and the actual clock. However, Professor Chris Melhuish of Bristol Robotics contends, "This is the device that turns organic matter into electrical energy." They're also designing fly-eating lamps and even a mouse-eating coffee table. The coffee table attracts mice with food remnants on the surface of the table. The mice climb through a hole in an L-shaped leg of the table, which gives them access to the tabletop. Once the rodents enter the hole in the center of the table they are then decapitated by a rotating blade. (Remember, PETA members, I am just the messenger!)
The designers compare this spectacle of Darwinian perversion to reality TV and nature shows. Auger contends, "A fly buzzing around a window suddenly becomes an actor in a live game of life, as the viewer half wills it towards the robot and half hopes for its escape."
This may sound like mad science fiction to you, but the designer claims, "To suit the domestic environment, we have avoided the stereotypical look normally associated with robots and adopted a contemporary design aesthetic. In this way, [the robots] operate as exclusive furniture and household accessories."