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Researchers take full control of cockroach's movement, turn it into a wireless sensor

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
September 6, 2012
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Built-in power supply? Check. Ability to survive anything? Check. Easy to control? Okay, anyone who's had a cockroach as an uninvited houseguest knows that's not the case. So, rather than re-inventing the biological wheel with a robotic version, North Carolina State university researchers have figured out a way to remotely control a real Madagascar hissing cockroach. They used an off-the-shelf microcontroller to tap in to the roach's antennae and abdomen, then sent commands that fooled the insect into thinking danger was near, or that an object was blocking it. That let the scientists wirelessly prod the insect into action, then guide it precisely along a curved path, as shown in the video below the break. The addition of a sensor could allow the insects to one day perform tasks, liking searching for trapped disaster victims -- something to think about the next time you put a shoe to one.

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