PORTLAND, Ore. — North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers have developed a way to use cockroaches for search and rescue missions by attaching electrodes to their antennas.
At next month's IEEE Remote Controlled Insect Biobots Minisymposium, NCSU researches will make the claim that cockroaches are better suited for search and rescue than big bulky robots. By attaching electrodes to the "scamper" reflex center and "steering" them with impulses to their antennae, the NCSU team claims to be able to guide the insect-sized search-and-rescue workers in any direction.
Biobots are insects and other animals that are wirelessly remote controlled, according to the IEEE Remote Controlled Insect Biobots Minisymposium.
"Our goal is to be able to guide these roaches, sending them on the most efficient routes to provide rescuers with a comprehensive view of the situation," said NCSU professor Alper Bozkurt.
Bozkurt and colleagues at NCSU used a Kinect 3D infrared range finder to track the cockroaches' movements then guide them by remote control. One signal goes to the insect's abdomen, causing it to rush ahead, while separate impulses into either the left or right antenna make it think an object is there, thus turning it in the opposite direction. By programming these signals into an autopilot that reacts instantly, the team was able to guide the cockroaches around a line-following test course.
The roaches could someday also be equipped with tiny MEMS microphones and speakers, according to NCSU, thus enabling victims to communicate with rescue workers through the cockroach-mounted radio transceiver.
The Remote Controlled Insect Biobots Minisymposium at the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society 2013 takes place July 3-7 in Osaka, Japan. Funding for the NCSU project was provided by the National Science Foundation.