back to article Boffins computerize giant cyborg cockroaches

A team of scientists have developed a microchip backpack that allows them to control the movements of a cockroach by stimulating its nerve endings. Rather than trying to build a robotic insect controlled by custom software, the team from North Carolina State University used cockroaches and off-the-shelf electronics. Since …

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Anonymous Coward

Classic sci-fi

Inspired ? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrHMBletjXg

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Anonymous Coward

Eggs & larvae

Mass production down to the size of a microchip might mean they could be injected into larvae or eggs, 'growing' into the adult animal. No need for surgery.

And then killer bees, really could be killer bees.

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Thumb Up

Re: Eggs & larvae

Once that's working the technology can be adapted to Austrian body builders.

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Happy

Funny you should mention that...

about the 'awwwww' factor of puppies, and the 'yuck!' factor of cockroaches. I watched some History Channel 'documentary' about things that last a long time; one of the subjects was cockroaches. One of the researchers, on camera, cut off the head of a roach, and showed that both the head and body were able to keep on living.

One part of me (the head?) thought 'animal cruelty'... Interesting stuff, nonetheless.

BTW, anyone noticed how 'revisionist' / sensationalist the programs are getting? Apocalypse Island, all that IMO crap about aliens and ancient civilizations...

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Re: Funny you should mention that...

It's a conservation problem too. You can persuade people to stump up money to save the Giant Panda or Lowland Gorilla - at a push, maybe even the Tasmanian Devil. But no-one's going to give money to save a small black beetle that looks much the same as a million other black beetles, but has different genitalia*.

* Seriously, that's often the most reliable way to tell species of Coleoptera apart. Particularly true of ladybirds/ladybugs, apparently.

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Totally agree...

What happened to the good old ancient civilization style documentaries? It's all about sensationalist programs and ridiculous 'collector' programs now a days...

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Anonymous Coward

"Twin electrodes were fused to the cockroach's antenna stumps, which steer the creature by simulating them to make the cockroach think it has hit an obstruction and thus induce a change of direction. Two more sensors were attached to sensory organs on the side of the insect that can make it move forward on demand by simulating the approach of a predator."

That does seem a little harsh, even for cockroaches. I mean, imagine going about your business, avoiding walls you're sure weren't there a minute ago when a whopping great T-Rex appears behind you and those sodding walls keep moving to block your escape.

Then all of a sudden there's no walls or T-Rex and when you're just about relaxed wondering whether you've gone a bit peculiar, it all happens again.

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Boffin

@AC

There's something wonderfully philosophical about that if you applied it to human existance.

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May I be the first to welcome...

... erm, on the other hand, no, forget that!!

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Whats that wire going into it's butt for?

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Methane capture. They may be animal tormentors, but at least they're eco-friendly animal tormentors.

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Go

Re: Whats that wire for

It's to make it go forward, or if it's a kinky rouch, go back.

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Terminator

Next step

Would be to make the little darlings completely computer controlled

I'm thinking of the vids of the swarm of quad-rotors

Think of it; A swarm of Computer controlled roaches, all governed by a game AI

Make for a good AR game ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Next step

No, next step is to control a hamster with a Raspberry PI.

If that works we can leap to controlling lower forms of humanoid life (like politicians and bankers) with a Qualcomm Snapdragon controlling an underpant mounted taser.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Next step

"If that works we can leap to controlling lower forms of humanoid life (like politicians and bankers) with a Qualcomm Snapdragon controlling an underpant mounted taser."

Unfortunately adding an Qualcomm Snapdragon would probably make them more intelligent, probably not a good idea!

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Re: Next step

>No, next step is to control a hamster with a Raspberry PI.

more or less already been done... not by using embedded computer to control the rodent directly, but rather to control a Skinner Box (an automated way of training animals using rewards and punishments to reinforce desirable behaviour). The application is to air-drop a Skinner box into a country with a landmine problem. Locally available rats are then automatically trained by the box to sniff out landmines. Of course, this approach uses the rat's own 'software'. Unlike sniffer dogs, which require a close and long relationship with a salaried human trainer, rats are cheap. And can squeeze through far smaller gaps than spaniels, if used in a post-earthquake search and rescue operation.

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Re: Next step

Can't help but feel this is not taking advantage of the cockroach's existing sensory equipment. If there was a way of having them use their chemical sensors to seek out CO2/ human scents/ etc instead of their usual food, then all you would need is a tiny transmitter backpack.

Some sort of selective breeding or genetic manipulation might be able to achieve this.

I'm assuming that cockroaches are already pretty adept at finding what they want and ways of getting there- better than a clumsy human operator with a mouse would be.

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Re: Next step

I foresee a new YouTube genre: LOLroaches.

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Coat

Oh great...

Bad enough to get trapped in a collapsed building after an earthquake, lying there hurting, scared, and surrounded by darkness, but now the rescue team's going to flood the place with cockroaches looking for you?

That could cause a big enough case of the "willies" to trigger a second quake!

Mines the one with the folding pickaxe and can of Raid... just in case!

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Re: Oh great...

And the hissing. Don't forget the hissing. Death would be sweet release.

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Re: Oh great...

Cockroaches are a good source of protein... though to be fair, you can last weeks without nutrition- it is water that you need.

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Meh

Not so different really

I see lots of people going down the sidewalk the same way. The only difference is they hold the optical control chip that gives direction in their hand and they seem to be completely unaware of their actual surroundings. You should see the way some of them queue up when a new optical control device is made available, it's all a bit Pavlovian really.

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cockroachguy.com

Huh?! And all I did was feed them to my lizards. www.cockroachguy.com

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Coat

All we need to do is breed em with stronger legs

By the lord Harry - this is a game changer. Forget the whole cat/curry monorail situation. This is the start of a new world order.

The possibilities are endless.

Public transport – fixed. Strap a few to the bottom of your shoes, control them from your smartphone

Mass transit – fixed. Jetsons style moving walkways, with ‘roahes under metal sushi-train style plates, replace motorways in a jiffy

City Pollution – Fixed. No more cars or mass transit, fewer delivery vehicles, taxi’s etc etc.

Shopping – Fixed, attach a bag to the top of a few with a note and some cash, add the optional GPS unit and send it to the shops .

Fast food delivery – fixed – see above but replace with a plate, hmm do you want a roach delivering food – maybe not

World Debt – Fixed, everyone in the west will be able to pay off the 3rd world debt what with everyone no longer using cabs/buses/trains, having any delivery costs, transport costs, buying cars, motorbikes etc.

City council and government debt fixed - They can stop spending their cash on anti pollution legislation and technology and ‘roaches don’t care if a road is tarmaced or not.

Everyone can move to ‘the country’ and we have a lot of that here in Australia!

They can be fed food scraps so that fixes food recycling

And of course the biggest innovation for humankind

You could get it to go to the bottle shop / off llicence* and bring back beer!

I for one am moving all $3.84 of my earthly wealth into 'roach farms. Now, where's the number for my broker......

*delete based on geography

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IT Angle

Aston Martin's new DBR(oach)

I wonder if Aston Martin could breed one that went really really fast, looked absolutely fabulous, was covered in the worlds best carpet, and had hand beaten wings?

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Bronze badge

Animal Cruelty?

Pish! Boffins have created a robot jockey for something much smaller, but relatively much stronger, than a horse. The only ethical concern I see here is the obvious surveillance implications.

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Anonymous Coward

Coming to a DARPA Project near you!

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Joke

Intelligent Design please

The Shrub and his Tea Bagger minions would like to remind you that Evolution is just a theory.

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Flame

You B*****DS!

Thats my great aunt Ida in that shot

I demand you stop the unwarranted crualty to my relatives!... except mad uncle george ... he thinks hes a kitten

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Mushroom

My skin is crawling

I am simultaneously intrigued and freaked out by this prospect. From a technological point of view, it's cool as hell. From a personal point of view, it gives me the ****ing creeps because I'm a big girlyman when it comes to insects. And these buggers hiss; they HISS, ffs...

Can we nuke all the cockroaches please? Contrary to popular belief, a sufficiently large dose of radiation will kill them stone dead...

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Coffee/keyboard

SoC

System on Cockroach! I was drinking coffee when I read that!

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Mushroom

Venus The Flytrap

That is all

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ohhhhh, CHRIST.

I sure hope these scientists are also hard at work on a giant computer-controlled rolled-up magazine.

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Black Helicopters

Eeek!

If I'm pinned in a building after an earthquake, I don't think the idea having an army of cyber-stimulated hissing cockroaches crawling the wreckage would be terribly comforting. I — along with a sizable portion of the human population — share the admittedly less-than rational fear of having creepy-crawlies crawling creepily over me.

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Bronze badge

OK

that's just a little on the creepy side for me...

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Silver badge

Muhahahahaha

1: Build cyborg cockroach

2: ????

3: World Domination

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