FlyGear, a robotic device for monitoring insects automatically and accurately

The CSIC and the Miguel Hernández University have developed a robot and its software for counting and measuring, in an automated, precise and reliable way, the transition time between life stages of fruit flies and other insects.

FlyGear permite monitorear facilmente muchos ejemplares de drosophila de forma automática. En la imagen, un tubo con ejemplares de Drosophila.

Accurate measurement of the transition time between life stages of fruit flies is essential in many research studies on cancer and longevity, detection of therapeutically useful compounds, or to study the impact of hormones or environmental factors on development.

A team of researchers from the CSIC and the Miguel Hernandez University in Elche (Alicante) have developed a robot and a software for counting and measuring automatically, in a precise and reliable way, the transition time between life stages of the fruit fly Drosophila, a common laboratory model.

The robot, called flyGear, consists of a motorised rotating platform that has several sample containers, a camera, and a control and recording software for processing automatically the registered data. The set allows 360 degrees images of the sample. It process them automatically and generate graphs and statistics of the number of pupae or adults, offering results within minutes. Due to its robust and compact design, the device can be adapted to  most incubators and can be used with other sensors, such as temperature or humidity sensors, among others.

The robot incorporates a light (visible and infrared LED) for high quality images, and for circadian cycle studies. It allows to customise the timing and lighting conditions for taking the images, with an easy-to-use software. Data acquisition includes time, number of individuals, their size and life stage, among other parameters. It allows to storage data and to process them in the cloud.

This portable system is compatible with most fly containers and can be adapted for other insect species. The device has been designed in order to make possible the scaleup to an industrial level for the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors.

Currently, the scientific team is seeking for pharmaceutical companies or laboratory equipment manufacturers interested in licensing the patent for the industrialisation and commercialisation of the device.

The use of Drosophila melanogaster in research is widespread in sectors such as pharmacology and biotechnology, and its use as a biofactory is gaining interest. It is the main model organism for high-throughput drug studies in cancer, longevity, and neurodegeneration, where time is a key factor in predicting toxicity and disease evolution.

Contact:
Marc Escamilla
Deputy Vice-Presidency for
Knowledge Transfer -
CSIC
Tel.: 961612995
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