Scientists develop robotic roaches - New York News

Scientists develop robotic roaches

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(Photo credit: Alper Bozkurt) (Photo credit: Alper Bozkurt)
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Scientists are using video game technology to remotely control roaches, in hopes of eventually using the bugs to map small areas,such as collapsed buildings.

The work is being done by North Carolina State University researchers.

They call them insect biobots.

They say they have successfully incorporated Microsoft's motion-sensing Kinect video game attachment into an electronic interface that can remotely control cockroaches.

They used Madagascar hissing cockroaches and allowed the video game technology to remotely control the cockroaches on autopilot, with a computer steering the cockroach through a controlled environment. Previous tests have succeeded with a human guiding the bug.

"Our goal is to be able to guide these roaches as efficiently as possible, and our work with Kinect is helping us do that," says Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper on the work.

A computer remotely controls the cockroaches sending small electrical signals to a receiver implanted on the roach.

The researchers say that the centimeter scale mobile biobots offer unique advantages in potentially dangerous or inaccessible environments.

"We want to build on this program, incorporating mapping and radio frequency techniques that will allow us to use a small group of cockroaches to explore and map disaster sites," Bozkurt says. "The autopilot program would control the roaches, sending them on the most efficient routes to provide rescuers with a comprehensive view of the situation."

The researchers hope to equip roaches with microphones in an effort to detect survivors.

"We may even be able to attach small speakers, which would allow rescuers to communicate with anyone who is trapped," Bozkurt says.

The authors of the study plan to present a paper on their findings at an international conference in Japan next month.

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