Researchers from the United States have developed a tiny wireless camera light enough for beetles to carry and record their daily lives.

The team from the University of Washington built the “beetle cam,” which can stream up to five frames per second of low resolution, black and white footage to a nearby smartphone. The camera weighs 250 milligrams, which is just a tenth of the weight of a playing card.

Photo: Mark Stone/University of Washington

Inspired by creating a low-powered camera system from the insects’ point of view, the camera can scan the environment, look side to side, and capture a higher-resolution panoramic image.

The researchers included an accelerometer in the system, which means it only takes photos when the beetle is moving in order to conserve its battery life. On a full charge, the camera was able to operate for six hours.

According to them, it is the world’s “smallest terrestrial, power-autonomous robot with wireless vision.”

The image at the top right was captured by the camera on the beetle, which is stood next to the Rubik’s cube. (Photo: University of Washington)

“As researchers, we strongly believe that it’s really important to put things in the public domain so people are aware of the risks and so people can start coming up with solutions to address them,” Shyam Gollakota, senior author of the research, told BBC.

The beetles lived for at least a year and were not harmed for the experiment.

The research was published in Science Robotics journal.

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