These small changes have actually created, as science fiction as it may seem, a small army of cyborg cockroaches. And no, it surely is not a sign of the apocalypse. After connecting the leads to the bug’s brains, scientists were then able to direct the insects into moving left or right by playing special tones. They essentially turned the bugs into remote-control biobiots.
This somewhat disturbing army contains two types of bugs: drones and sensors.
Drones are made to move left or right by playing signals. Sensors, on the other hand, tell the drones where the sound is coming from. As such, researchers now believe that they may help save people left in the rubble caused by earthquakes, for instance. Such an army could be set loose in such an area after being pre-programmed to listen for noise. After homing in to different sounds, drones could gather to the specific spot and signal rescuers.
“In a collapsed building, sound is the best way to find survivors,”
Dr. Alper Bozkurt, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State said.
Bozkurt is the senior author of the study currently underway. He explains that such a biobot is equipped with an electronic backpack in charge of the cockroach’s movement.
The team of researchers created two distinct types of backpacks using microphones, so that one type of biobot is able to capture high-resolution sound by using a single microphone, regardless of the origin of the sound.
And since researchers wouldn’t want to lose their prized insects, they managed to create what they call an invisible fence- the bugs are kept within the designated rescue area. Last but not least, the cockroach backpacks are going to also receive solar power cells so that the biobots will be able to work autonomously for several days.
And if this doesn’t work, well, at least the bugs are edible.