Beware Of The Beetle: Scientists Develop Defense Mechanisms For ATMs

May, 12, 2014: Acid-spewing bombardier beetles are the new inspiration for ATM defense mechanism.

Burglars, criminals, and ATM vandals might need to reconsider their options as chemists at ETH Zurich University have come up with a new deterrent which takes its inspiration from the acid-spewing bombardier beetles.

Although experts are mainly considering using this technology to fend off people from attacking ATMs, it could be employed to protect a whole range of valuable goods from being vandalized.

During the first half of 2013, more than 1,000 attacks on ATMs took place in Europe, resulting in losses of EUR 10 million.

The technology comprises of several sandwich-like layers of plastic. If the surface is damaged, hot foam is sprayed in the face of the attacker.

"Since the responsive materials presented here do not depend on electricity, they may provide a cost effective alternative to currently used safety systems in the public domain, automatic teller machines and protection of money transport systems," ETH researchers wrote in a Journal of Materials Chemistry paper.

The bombardier beetle has one of the most aggressive deterrence mechanisms in insects. When threatened, the spray a hot poisonous chemical, from the tip of their abdomen, which can be fatal for insects and small creatures and very painful for humans.

Citing the beetle as an inspiration for the new technology, Jan Stark, a professor at the ETH Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences said, “When you see how elegantly nature solves problems, you realize how deadlocked the world of technology often is.

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