Researchers Remotely Control Cockroaches With Electronic Backpack

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Researchers Remotely Control Cockroaches With Electronic Backpack

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By using sensors to steer cockroaches, the bugs could be used to gather information in tricky environments.

Cockroaches aren't exactly pleasant, but researchers at North Carolina State University have found a good scientific use for the pesky bugs. Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Alper Bozkurt and his team have found a way to remotely control live cockroaches by attaching an electronic "backpack" to the bugs, allowing humans to control and steer them. The backpack contains a low-cost chip with a wireless receiver and transmitter, as well as a microcontroller attached to the roach's antennae and cerci.

Creating these "biobotic cockroaches" was a cost-effective alternative to "small-scale robots," which would have been too difficult to produce quickly and efficiently. The biobotic bugs are an electronically safe way to get information from dangerous locations, like an earthquake-destroyed building, and since "cockroaches are experts at performing in such a hostile environment" they're a natural fit for the job.

The wires attached to the cerci, the sensory organs on the roach's abdomen, are used to scare the roaches into thinking a predator is coming from behind, causing the bug to move forward. Meanwhile, the antennae wires are "electronic reins" that cause them to think they've come in contact with a physical barrier, steering them in a different direction. A recent experiment showed that the researchers could effectively steer roaches along a curved line using the microcontroller.

This is a great use for cockroaches, who seem to serve no other purpose than generally being gross. Now, if Alper Bozkurt could make a cat-sized electronic backpack so I could make my cat get me a soda, I'd really be impressed.

Source & Image: Phys.org

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Hmmm. I don't want to take away from this experiment's findings, but perhaps if the roaches could also be monitored somehow for their general health... I know this is going to sound pathetic, but the thought of running them to death so we can know stuff kinda makes me sad. And hopeful that they one day rise up against us, and put taser harnesses on us...

I can't put my finger on it, but the idea of small robots doing our work doesn't bother me, but the idea of small animals forced to help us, does.

I don't want to be convinced I am wrong, I know humans have been using and abusing animals since we first stood up, and I know that saving lives (sorry, HUMAN lives) is paramount - I'm just a bit tired, I think...

Damn. I'm not sure if this is something thats pretty awesome, or pretty scary.

And I'd love to see what people have to say about the morality behind using biobotics in a way like this. Is this unethical to be doing such experiments? Pretty amazing none the less. I certainly hope these get applied in a practical way though

Sarah LeBoeuf:
Now, if Alper Bozkurt could make a cat-sized electronic backpack so I could make my cat get me a soda, I'd really be impressed.

Don't be surprised if in a few days you're wearing a backpack, and feeling the inexplicable urge to buy your cat a steak.

Oh God.
The cyborgs are here.

OT: this sounds like a great idea, but I'm kind of concerned about the roaches welfare...

I expect to see this implemented in the next incarnation of COD.

Capatcha: Call me Maybe

No.

That's actually really incredible and terrifying at the same time.

Oh my... What other pests can we do this to? Remote controlled killer bees?
BTW, the link to the source was broken or something.

I am not sure I want to actually meet the NCSU Professor that dreamed up the "radio controlled cyborg cockroaches" project... or even worse the panel that approved funding for it? I mean really?

Sarah LeBoeuf:
This is a great use for cockroaches, who seem to serve no other purpose than generally being gross. Now, if Alper Bozkurt could make a cat-sized electronic backpack so I could make my cat get me a soda, I'd really be impressed.

Well you know If you got enough roaches together you could start a beverage delivery company for Halloween Parties. Call it: Beatle Juice!

Someone's been watching Fifth Element.

lol remote controlled cockroaches.

Scientist 1: "Shouldn't we be working on curing cancer?"

Scientist 2: "Naaaah, I can't be arsed, let's stick backpacks on cockroaches!"

Everyone knows this is going to be used for war and espionage. So why use the earthquake excuse?

So they're control animals with grafted on electronics that induce obedience through fear and the sensation of having hit a solid object.

I see no ethical implications attached to this project, none whatsoever.

Begs another question, can this be used to make the Roaches carry dangerous materials like say... ricin pellets? I can't help thinking this will give rise to grenade rats at some point of the future, or the return of the anti-tank dog. Or maybe that'll just be the job of UAVS.

lRookiel:
lol remote controlled cockroaches.

Scientist 1: "Shouldn't we be working on curing cancer?"

Scientist 2: "Naaaah, I can't be arsed, let's stick backpacks on cockroaches!"

Well can you blame them? Curing cancer is important and all, but it's just so boring.

But seriously, this is cool. I do hope the bugs arn't harmed by the process. I know they're just bugs, but still.
I'd love to see them controling the cockroaches. Any videos of this?

the December King:
Hmmm. I don't want to take away from this experiment's findings, but perhaps if the roaches could also be monitored somehow for their general health... I know this is going to sound pathetic, but the thought of running them to death so we can know stuff kinda makes me sad. And hopeful that they one day rise up against us, and put taser harnesses on us...

I can't put my finger on it, but the idea of small robots doing our work doesn't bother me, but the idea of small animals forced to help us, does.

I don't want to be convinced I am wrong, I know humans have been using and abusing animals since we first stood up, and I know that saving lives (sorry, HUMAN lives) is paramount - I'm just a bit tired, I think...

I'd agree...

if it wasn't cockroaches. Seriously, they're cockroaches, only slightly less loved than rats and more loved that black widows.

I want a remotely controlled cockroach now.

No, an army. Fear me!

Scientist: We have created small electronic bac...
Me: Cockroach! *smashes with shoe*
Scientist: NO! *cries*

OT: It's cool that we can control bugs but why cockroaches? I hate cockroaches!

NLS:
Oh my... What other pests can we do this to? Remote controlled killer bees?

I wouldn't mind because, you know, it's for scientific purposes *startsgatheringreserchforanarmyofants* :P

And we shall ride atop our majestic cockroaches to victory!

Actually, I will hold my praise until they attach a camera to the roach. Otherwise, this is useless.

This is so many flavours of morally wrong that I cannot even begin to comprehend how is that okay to do.

Why are so many people sorry for the roach? Roaches don't have emotions... Maybe i'm just biased cause I have a huge phobia of roaches and would love it if they all died and went away forever.

Seriously though, we can't pick a more pleasant bug to do this? Nice beetle perhaps? If i'm trapped under the rubble of a torn down building and they send a search party of robotic roaches after me i'm squishing all the fuckers so guess i'll never be found.

Saviordd1:

if it wasn't cockroaches. Seriously, they're cockroaches, only slightly less loved than rats and more loved that black widows.

I'd rather be in a room with a thousand black widows and rats than in a room with one roach :S

DugMachine:

Saviordd1:

if it wasn't cockroaches. Seriously, they're cockroaches, only slightly less loved than rats and more loved that black widows.

I'd rather be in a room with a thousand black widows and rats than in a room with one roach :S

Why?

Black Widows can kill you.

And plus one roach is ten times more clean than either a spider or rat.

Saviordd1:

DugMachine:

Saviordd1:

if it wasn't cockroaches. Seriously, they're cockroaches, only slightly less loved than rats and more loved that black widows.

I'd rather be in a room with a thousand black widows and rats than in a room with one roach :S

Why?

Black Widows can kill you.

And plus one roach is ten times more clean than either a spider or rat.

How lethal something is rarely crosses me mind, at least when it comes to spiders. I spent a few years living with my grandmother and she had a serious black widow problem. I would have maybe 3 or 4 in my room at any given night. So I just sorta learned to live with em. Plus I'm not a huge bug person but i'm quite fond of spiders, they're really interesting.

Roaches though... No clue why i'm so afraid of them. Always have, always will. If I even see one my body goes into over drive and I just go apeshit on the thing until it's smashed dead. Almost punched a hole in the wall once trying to destroy this roach that had the balls to come into my room >:(!

Considering every roach I ever see ends up squashed flat if I can get to it, this seems like a constructive use to put them to. Network a few hundred of them together and then you're really talking.

Please, don't worry about the cockroaches. They were here long before we arrived and will be here long after we're gone.

"Electronic reins", my first thought was, "whoa Nelly."

Also, got to add, cockroach didn't ask for this.

But maintaining them, no problem probably, steer them back, put them in a container with food. They aren't fussy eaters.

I support roach cyborgs. Can't wait for the military applications.

Given that I mercilessly destroy any arthropod that I find which has had the hubris to dare to enter my room, I have no ethical qualms about making them my slaves too.

Creating these "biobotic cockroaches" was a cost-effective alternative to "small-scale robots," which would have been too difficult to produce quickly and efficiently.

And they're probably far more durable than any small-scale robot they could possibly create.

But do they have difficulty steering the RoboRoaches into well-lit areas?

the December King:
Hmmm. I don't want to take away from this experiment's findings, but perhaps if the roaches could also be monitored somehow for their general health... I know this is going to sound pathetic, but the thought of running them to death so we can know stuff kinda makes me sad.

I felt the same way. It's one thing to eat animals and such, but to enslave them for this seems wrong even if it is fiscally logical.

wsmieszek:
This is so many flavours of morally wrong that I cannot even begin to comprehend how is that okay to do.

Definitely. I'm getting shades of Grimdark'd Ratatouille, with the crafty and lovable rat replaced by humans needing to probe the deepest, darkest corners of little slices of Hell.

So long as it doesn't happen to-
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ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD.

DugMachine:
Why are so many people sorry for the roach? Roaches don't have emotions...

Actually, they're using their fear response to predators to maneuver them. So not only do they have emotions, but they're being exploited for them. If we did this enough to mammals, they'd become extremely neurotic as a result.

FINALLY!!!!!!

I cannot even tell you how long I have been dying to have an army of roaches that I will control to raid other peoples homes in order to seek and retrieve.....other roaches! Oh glorious day,

Praise be to science!

This is going to lead some mad super villain into using small backpacks to control spiders and wasps.

This is our doom.

Do the cockroaches at least get cool cyborg sunglasses that come out of their face?

Can we stop torturing bugs like children and work on curing AIDS or something?

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