Remote-controlled cockroaches are being developed. The plan is to use the robotic devices, fitted to live cockroaches, to seek out earthquake victims buried in debris.
A science team based at North Carolina State University have studied the behavior of cockroaches, including the direction that they travel in, with the idea of using the renowned survival skills of the 'roach to help find earthquake victims.
According to Scientific American, this has led to the development of a type of robotic 'backpack' that can be fitted onto a cockroach. The types of cockroaches being tried are Madagascan hissing cockroaches. Inside the backpack is a circuit board, a tiny computer and a wireless receiver.
Through the device, scientists can control the direction that cockroach moves in by sending electric pulses. This indicates to the cockroach that there is a barrier, so the 'roach changes direction.
Cockroaches were selected rather than other creatures, or even robots, due to their ability to navigate difficult terrain and survive in hostile environments. Cockroaches are among the hardiest insects on the planet. Some species are capable of remaining active for a month without food and are able to survive on limited resources like the glue from the back of postage stamps.
Cockroaches live in a wide range of environments around the world. Pest species of cockroaches adapt readily to a variety of environments, but prefer warm conditions found within buildings. Many tropical species prefer even warmer environments and do not fare well in the average household. Cockroaches are mainly nocturnal and will run away when exposed to light.
The research team involved Alper Bozkurt and Tahmid Latif. The researchers presented their findings to the 4th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society in San Diego, California