Is this Cyborg-Cockroach the perfect lifesaver

You might not believe it, but remote-controlled cockroaches could help us to search for missing persons during disasters. These bionic rescuers will be able to reach into those nooks and crannies that humans just can’t reach.

The title “Is Cyborg-Cockroach a Perfect Lifesaver?” reminds me of one of my favorite novels by Philip K. Dick,Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The association is justified, because what I’m talking about here sounds like science fiction. It’s not about building a robotic cockroach, but transforming a live cockroach into a cyborg. The aim is to help locate and rescue victims of disasters who are stuck in hard-to-reach places.

This doesn’t sound easy and surely there must be issues around animal rights? But, as you can see below, the Cyborg-Cockroach programme is actually a real project. Let me explain…

Small electrodes slide on to it and are glued to antennas, which stimulate the cockroach’s neurons that control its motor functions. By using electrostimulation, the researchers are able to control the direction of the Cyborg-Cockroach’s movement: a pulse sent to the right antenna triggers a left turn, and a pulse sent to the left one… you get the idea.

A wireless link transmits information about environmental conditions, the position of the cockroach and any nearby sounds back to base. If the sound analysing computer algorithm considers the sound to be of human origin, it can use all of the information to coordinate the movement of numerous Cyborg-Cockroaches so that they move towards potential victims of a disaster.

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How do these Cyborg-Cockroaches work?

The insect has this little backpack — a small 3D printed plastic platform — glued to its back. It carries all of the necessary electronic components, including a printed circuit board that acts as a microcontroller.

The insect’s electronics are fed by a three-volt lithium-polymer battery weighing 0.5 grams. Researchers are also considering solar power — it takes less than two hours of sun exposure to fully charge the tiny battery.

Sorce: IQ Intel

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