As if robot cockroaches weren’t already swarming the top of my nightmare chart, real cockroaches are fighting hard to catch up. And this time, they’re using Microsoft Kinect to do it. (Not by, like, stacking a bunch of the units on top of each other, but by much more nefarious methods.)
Much like the remote-controlled cockroaches that have already made June 2013 the month I wanted to begin a career in mass extermination, this story also involves electronically controlled insects, though these are left with a tad more independence. Researchers from North Carolina designed a DIY method of turning roaches into robots just over a year ago, but now they’ve implemented the Kinect system in order to give the roach some passive guidance.
Wires are inserted into the roaches’ sensory organs, which propel them forward, and “small charges injected into the roach’s neural tissue trick the roach into thinking its antennae are hitting a barrier,” and the roach will instinctively turn. A digital pathway was created by a computer, with invisible boundaries keeping the roach on its path, and by pointing the Kinect at the insect, its movements can be monitored and recorded. (They should use this WiFi tracker one day.) Take a look at the oddly silent test video below.