Remote-controlled Search-and-rescue Cockroaches Are Coming, Researchers


Cockroaches may soon carry out reconnaissance work in the wake of disasters, by exploring collapsed buildings and nuclear meltdowns before human beings are sent into harm’s way. UPI has more:

As researchers at Texas A&M recently showed, the durable insects can quickly be turned into remote-controlled cyborgs. They did so by implanting electrodes to control certain nerves in three species of cockroaches. On the test subjects’ backs, the researchers installed a tiny, lightweight backpack featuring a microcontroller, wireless transceiver and battery.

The technology allowed scientists to remotely deliver tiny electric shocks, steering the insect left and right. The new study proved their efforts were successful in pulling the cockroaches in the proper direction 60 percent of the time.

“[They] go anywhere you guide them to,” Hong Liang, a materials scientist at Texas A&M, told Live Science. Cockroaches could prove ideal for exploring nuclear and chemical disasters, as the insects are remarkably immune to radiation. “Insects can do things a robot cannot,” Liang told the Guardian. “They can go into small places, sense the environment, and if there’s movement, from a predator say, they can escape much better than a system designed by a human.”