Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Technology

Cyborg cockroach wired for search and rescue

Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012 - 02:31

Sept. 26 - Researchers at North Carolina State University are turning cockroaches into joystick-controlled cyborgs for use in search and rescue operations. With a wireless interface and tiny electrodes, the scientists say they are attempting to capitalise on the insects' unique ability to scuttle in and out of the tiniest crevice. Ben Gruber reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

Professor Alper Bozkurt loves cockroaches. Where most people see a pest, Bozkurt sees a six legged partner. Bozkurt and his team are developing a cyborg cockroach - a living insect with electrodes connected to its sensory organs. One day he says, the roach will be an essential tool in search and rescue operations. It'll be adapted to carry a miniature camera or microphone into buildings flattened by earthquakes to look for survivors. And it'll be controlled remotely by humans. These electrodes act as an interface that allow the researchers to steer the cockroach with a joystick. The principle electrodes are attached to the insect's antennae. With the press of a button, the researchers send an electrical pulse which manipulates the roach's senses. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALPER BOZKURT, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "What we do is basically simulate some sort of virtual obstacles in front of them, in our cockroach experiments, by stimulating their antennae and to avoid those obstacles they turn right and they turn left." And they can direct the roach to move forward as well, with a third electrode connected to the rear of the cockroaches abdomen. Bozkurt says when this electrode is activated it tricks the insect into believing it's being chased by a non-existent predator. But the team's experiments have not come without controversy. Many people - even those who hate cockroaches - have questioned the ethics of using a living creature as a tool. But Bozkurt dismisses the critics. He says steering a roach with a remote control is much the same as steering a horse with reins, something humans have been doing for thousands of years. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALPER BOZKURT, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ELECTRICAL AND COMPUTER ENGINEERING, NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "We don't believe that we induce any sort of feeling of pain to the insect with our stimulations. Many people may be thinking that we are zapping the insect and it tries to avoid the pain and it goes in the other direction but biologically, there are a lot of research publications and evidence out there which suggest that there is no concept of pain for the insect." Bozkurt says there are many years of research ahead before his roaches are ready for search and rescue operations. In the meantime he says he wants people to see that there's more to the cockroach than meets the eye.

Cyborg cockroach wired for search and rescue

Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012 - 02:31

Top News »

Most Popular »

Money »

S&P 500 to new record on improving economy S&P 500 to new record on improving economy

Fri, Aug 29, 2014 - (2:31)

Finding meaning in the S&P 500 2000 mark Finding meaning in the S&P 500 2000 mark

Mon, Aug 25, 2014 - (2:35)

S&P falls back from record high S&P falls back from record high

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (1:35)

S&P 500 closes at new high S&P 500 closes at new high

Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - (1:24)

S&P 500 just shy of record S&P 500 just shy of record

Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - (2:23)

Apple hits $100 a share Apple hits $100 a share

Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - (2:06)

Nasdaq closes at 14-year high Nasdaq closes at 14-year high

Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - (2:23)

Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (2:10)

We've become a promotional culture-RetailMeNot's Bodge We've become a promotional...

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (4:39)

The Exchange »

The Exchange: Hot commodity The Exchange: Hot commodity

Wed, Jul 16, 2014 - (9:25)

The Exchange: Constitutional crusade The Exchange: Constitutional crusade

Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - (11:35)

The Exchange: The value of money The Exchange: The value of money

Mon, Jun 02, 2014 - (9:53)

The Exchange: China’s Second Continent The Exchange: China’s Second Continent

Tue, May 27, 2014 - (9:35)

The Exchange: A master of business arts The Exchange: A master of business arts

Thu, May 08, 2014 - (8:24)

The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities

Mon, May 05, 2014 - (8:52)

The Exchange: Let the rocking commence The Exchange: Let the rocking commence

Tue, Apr 08, 2014 - (8:13)

The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies

Mon, Mar 24, 2014 - (9:54)

Is doing good a good business? Is doing good a good business?

Mon, Mar 17, 2014 - (7:38)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

Images of August Images of August

Fri, Aug 29, 2014 - (1:00)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (3:12)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - (3:04)

World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals

Fri, Jun 06, 2014 - (1:08)

VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light

Fri, May 30, 2014 - (1:37)