Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a technology, which allows them to steer cockroaches using a remote control.
Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper on the work, said the team decided to create biobotic cockroaches because building miniature robots is extremely difficult and expensive.
Building on this concept the team developed a low-cost, lightweight, commercially available chip with a wireless receiver and transmitter, and embed it device into roaches.
Researchers Control Biobotic Cockroaches
The 0.7 gram backpack, which is wired to the roach’s antennae and cerci (sensory organs on the roach’s abdomen used to detect movement in the air), also contains a microcontroller that monitors the interface between the implanted electrodes and the tissue to avoid potential neural damage.
To control the insects scientists send small pulses to the electrodes, which trigger the roach’s cerci. The insect then thinks something is coming from behind or the side and moves out of the way.
The electrodes connected to the antenna work by fooling the insect into thinking it has reached a barrier, and that it must go around. By using these simple commands, the researchers are able to control and steer the roach in the direction of their choosing.
The team hopes the maneuverability and small size of the roaches will allow search and rescue teams to use the technology when searching for survivors following a disaster.