Time (Eats) Flies: Clock Powers Itself by Catching & Eating Bugs

By Patrick Morgan | March 28, 2011 11:03 am

Cat clocks. Cuckoo clocks. Grandfather clocks. Often times, clocks are named after the objects, animals, or people they resemble. Not so the fly clock: This mechanical wonder is billed as the first-ever carnivorous clock, sucking energy from decomposed fly carcasses (giving new meaning to the phrase “eating up time”).

The mechanics are quite elegant: Unsuspecting flies get stuck on the clock’s flypaper, which is rigged as a corpse-carrying conveyor belt. A blade on the clock scrapes the catch into a microbial fuel cell. As it digests the fly, the fuel cell extracts electrons to power the LCD screen. As flypaper keeps trapping and the wheels keep turning, you have yourself an Earth-friendly, critter-ridding timepiece the likes the world has never seen.

UK engineers got the idea of a carnivorous clock from Chris Melhuish at the Bristol Robotics Lab, whose team previously developed another fly-powered robot, according to MSNBC. But the idea of carnivorous robots goes back at least a decade, to the aptly named Slugbot.

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  • Justin


    Just keep them away from the intelligent and self evolving robots so that they don’t decide that humans are just as good a fuel source…

  • Dan

    Where can I get a roach powered reading lamp?

  • Michael

    I’m sure peta would have something to say about this…

  • Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor)

    @Dan: How bout a moth-powered reading lamp? Light draws the moths, moths donate themselves to power the light. The cycle is complete.

    @Michael: Is there any animal PETA would not defend [besides people, of course]? Bed bugs? Malaria mosquitoes? Cane toads?

  • Paulo Cortes

    Just amazing. A very clean energy resource

  • http://jeremy-miller.ca Jeremy

    This is brilliant.

    There are hundreds of possible applications for something like this.

  • Kev

    If it’s good on miquiiitoes, I’ll take two!

  • Ld Elon

    what can i say, other than, a development of thee inevitable.

    you only have to add the dotts guys, how so the last post aired over the network, has this playin in tune. i laugh, for now.


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