Cyborg cockroach has its nerves controlled wirelessly

2019-02-28 07:18:09

By Chris Baraniuk (Image: Carlos Sanchez, Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University) Resistance is futile for this remotely controlled cockroach. It has had a battery-powered microcontroller plugged into its nervous system, and its will is no longer its own. The “backpack” sends electrical signals that can control the roach’s direction of movement and gait. A wireless receiver means the creepy-crawly can be governed from afar. The researchers also tried inserting electrodes into the animal’s antennae sockets to control its behaviour – in essence, tricking the roach into sensing an obstruction ahead and so moving in the other direction – but found that direct stimulation of the nervous system was more effective. The antennae-socket route had been taken in earlier studies and is also how a commercialised version of a similar experiment by a different group operates. Other species have also been assimilated: we already know how to pilot a live moth and we’ve given a rat a digital cerebellum. Journal reference: Journal of the Royal Society Interface, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2014.1363 More on these topics: