Kinect-Controlled Cockroaches

Cockroaches are tough to get rid of (although claims of their ability to survive a thermonuclear explosion are somewhat exaggerated). So if we can't kill them, maybe we can control them?

Researchers in North Carolina have been doing some serious messing with the  minds (and bodies) of roaches lately, using a combination of remote control and Microsoft Kinect technology to alter their behavior. Last year, engineers at North Carolina State University came up with a “RoboRoach” kit that allows users to attach a circuit board to a roach and wire it to their antenna. A wireless remote can make the roach move left or right, at least temporarily.

The same team recently developed an interface to send the roaches in a pre-determined direction, using Kinect to track the roach's path and alter its course as necessary. Sensors are wired to the roach's sensory organs, and small electrical charges trick the roach into thinking its antennae have hit a barrier. That causes it to turn.

Eventually, they hope to use the technology to turn roaches into search and rescue tools.

You can read more about it here, and in this paper presented at the International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society last year.

Source: North Carolina State University

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Brian Albright's avatar
Brian Albright

Brian Albright is the editorial director of Digital Engineering. Contact him at [email protected].

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