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Cyborg Cockroaches Could Assist First Responders

Cyborg Cockroaches Could Assist First Responders

Image source: Alper Bozkurt

Future first responders may get a helping hand from remote-controlled cyborg cockroaches, which could be sent in to disaster sites to gather data and map the area before human rescuers enter the site.

Combining video game technology with cockroach biology, researchers at North Carolina State University have been able to remotely steer the insects through a controlled environment, using Kinect tracking technology.

“The researchers have incorporated Microsoft’s motion-sensing Kinect system into an electronic interface developed at NC State that can remotely control cockroaches. The researchers plug in a digitally plotted path for the roach, and use Kinect to identify and track the insect’s progress. The program then uses the Kinect tracking data to automatically steer the roach along the desired path.” – NC State

The roaches could eventually be equipped with additional equipment or sensors, such as a microphone for listening for survivors, or even a two-way audio to aid in communication.

“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. The autopilot program would control the roaches, sending them on the most efficient routes to provide rescuers with a comprehensive view of the situation.” – Dr. Alper Bozkurt, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State

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