Do We Really Need Those?: Wirelessly Controlled Roaches

September 7, 2012


Because what good are insects if we can't mutate them to giant proportions and ride them around crashing into things, scientists at North Carolina State University have fitted a cockroach with a microcontroller that allow it to be wirelessly steered. Next: doing the same thing to humans. You watch.

The microcontroller is wired to the roach's antennae and cerci.

The cerci are sensory organs on the roach's abdomen, which are normally used to detect movement in the air that could indicate a predator is approaching - causing the roach to scurry away. But the researchers use the wires attached to the cerci to spur the roach into motion. The roach thinks something is sneaking up behind it and moves forward.

The wires attached to the antennae serve as electronic reins, injecting small charges into the roach's neural tissue. The charges trick the roach into thinking that the antennae are in contact with a physical barrier, which effectively steers them in the opposite direction.

The idea is that the cockroaches could be sent in after earthquakes to locate victims trapped under debris. My idea is that we just hire the Hulk to get in there and pick all the debris off them. "The more realistic approach" I like to call it.

Hit the jump for a video of a cockroach being controlled to follow a curved line (you can see the left and right input as they push them at the bottom of the screen).

Thanks to RhymeDirective, who has every intention of wirelessly controlling bees to sting frienemies.

  • Matthew Anderson

    He's trying SOOOO hard to do his own thing on the second "course"...
    Damn you illusion of free will!!!!

  • Damn. Never thought I'd feel sorry for a roach.

  • LittleBigFace

    I think that's been on this website before, but it wasn't as acurate

  • NinjaBagel

    Now all we had to do is research glial reconstitution and we'll be set

  • Liang Li

    This is sort of just guiding ants with your hands as 'walls' as kids used to do. Control roach movement should really mean hooking up deep circuits that would independently control each of its six legs and then using some complex movement scheme to propell it fowards. Call me a cynic.

  • inconspicuous

    They already have this for humans - it's called Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation. Cheers.

  • Ed

    Add a microphone and memory, or a transmitter, and you have a cockroach spy. That's what they're really for, earthquakes my ass.

  • ZomBBombeR

    My centiments exactly.

  • Lee

    All sorts of Fifth Element scenes just came rushing to my brain...

    Multi - Pass O-o

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