Okay, we’re now one step closer to a world where a crazed madman uses an army of radio-controlled cockroaches to make a play for world domination. Apparently, roaches weren’t creepy enough on their own, science had to go ahead and turn them into cyborgs.
Researchers at the IBionicS laboratory at North Carolina State University have mounted a small wireless control unit on the back of a Madagascar Hissing cockroach. When activated, this turns the insect into what is essentially a tiny, scuttling RC car.
The way the interface works is by feeding a light electrical current through the bug’s antennae. As a result of the charge, the roach thinks it has encountered an obstruction, causing it to veer in the opposite direction.
Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, says, “Ultimately, we think this will allow us to create a mobile web of smart sensors that uses cockroaches to collect and transmit information, such as finding survivors in a building that’s been destroyed by an earthquake.”
In the video you can see how accurately these robo-roaches can be controlled, and given their propensity for getting anywhere, they’re ideally suited for this type of work. That might be a bit of a surprise. You’re just hanging out, trapped underneath a collapsed building, fighting for survival, and a partially mechanized roach shows up to save the day.
While the intensions are certainly noble, a lifetime of mad scientist movies have led me to conclude that now we will eventually have to face down a swarming army of roach-bots. Someone should write that movie, if they haven’t already. Syfy will air it, and I’ll totally watch it some random Saturday night.