Roboroach Slalom Steering Video

Take a look at how well a cockroach can follow a curving racecourse in the video below. The research was done at North Carolina State University's iBionics Laboratory.


(Roboroach Slalom Steering Video)

In this interview excerpt, assistant professor of engineering Alper Bozkurt, who led the roach biobot project, talks with National Geographic:

What exactly is a biobot? Is it like a cyborg, a combination of a living organism and a robot?
"Biobot" is short for "biological robot." It is the first stage of creating what we would call an insect cyborg.
Currently, we can steer these roaches remotely and make them stop, go, and turn. If we can have them interact independently with the technologies we've surgically implanted in them, then they will become true cyborgs.

Can you explain exactly how you are able to steer the biobots?
We use electric pulses to stimulate their antenna sensor cells, making them think there is an obstacle to navigate around.
Cockroaches use their antennae as touch sensors, similar to the way a blind person might use their hands to recognize the environment. So when we stimulate the antennal sensor on the roach's right side, it makes a left turn, and vice versa. We also stimulate their cerci to make them go forward. Cerci are the sensors at the very back of the insect that sense any predator behind.

Do the electrical pulses hurt the roaches?
No, there are a lot of scientific papers and evidence that show that invertebrates don't have the sense of pain as we, humans, perceive it. So it was not like we were zapping them and they were reacting to pain. Their reflexes were simply navigating them around perceived obstacles.

Your paper mentions that these biobots could help rescue earthquake survivors. How, exactly?
Their backpacks can carry a locator beacon and a tiny microphone to pick up cries for help. Of course, a human operator or computer still has to be listening and steering them... I don't think it will be very long before we can deploy them to actually help rescue people.

Science fiction fans know that the idea for steerable insects derives from Sparrowhawk, a 1990 science fiction novel by Dr. Thomas A. Easton.

"There's the brain, the spinal chord, the motor centers. A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain." She explained how the controller, a computer, translated movements of the tiller or control yoke and the throttle and brake pedals into electrical signals and routed them as appropriate to the jets or the genimal's motor centers, triggering the genimal's own nervous system into commanding its muscles to serve the driver. All the necessary programming was built into the hardware...
(Read more about the Roachster)

Philip K. Dick also played around with this idea in the mid-1960's. See the references for the housefly monitor (from Lies, Inc. [1964]) and the commercial fly (from The Simulacra [1964]).

See also the first successful HI-MEMS (Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) program at the University of Michigan. Via National Geographic and IBionics at North Carolina State.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/3/2012)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Biology ")

Steerable Locusts Detect Explosives
Science fiction writers again provide a blueprint for the future.

Real Leather Without Cows Modern Meadow Biofabrication
'Plastissue, as any fool can see...' - WF Wallace, 1952,

Epigenetic Memory's On/Off Switch Found
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!' - Barbara Hambly, 1982.

Rabbit's Brain Cryogenically Frozen Successfully
'Even in the case of the most perfect freezing there is still some activity...' - Edward Page Mitchell, 1879.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Snap Specs - Snapchat Spectacles - Are Video Glasses
'The old woman laid her wire-knitting aside and fixed them with the bug-eyed, opaque gape...'

Reading A Scroll Burned To Charcoal
'The scope was adjusted to generate... an image of the lower section of the book.'

Robot Arrested In Moscow
They should have thrown a net over him.

Oh Great, Fence-Climbing Robots
How long till they add the acid-tipped stingers?

Software Agents Fight Unseen On The Web
'...Worms and counter-worms loose on the data-net.'

Sandisk 1 Terabyte SD Memory Card Surfaces
'They should be Welton Fine-Grains, or they would be too bulky to ship...'

Carbyne, The Ultimate Form Of Carbon
'A continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal...'

Bradbury's Method Used In Search For Bombing Suspect
'He imagined thousands on thousands of faces peering into yards, into alleys...'

New Laser Space Debris Clearing More Subtle Than Clarke's
Rather than nudge them up, nudge them down.

Robots Learn To Swarm Safely
'They were bronzy gleams of smooth motion...'

Samsung's Smart Ring
'Crayn glanced at his finger watch...'

Proposal To Use Lasers To Analyze Asteroids
'Wendis stared thoughtfully at the brilliant lines on the spectroscope screen.'

Autonomous Sumo Robot Wrestling Video
'The expressionless face before me was therefore that of the golem-wrestler...'

Fashion Needs To Step Up Technology Education
'Keeping up with advances in fashion is almost as easy as reading - if you're reading science fiction.'

Youbionic 3D Printed Hand A Dark Knight Masterpiece
'A self-contained robot of precision quality usually joined to his right wrist'

Robots Now Know How To Cause Pain
'THE HATE I FEEL FOR HUMANS AT THIS MICRO-INSTANT...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.