Getting the bugs out (and about.)
May 22, 2006 8:58 PM   Subscribe

Cockroach Controlled Mobile RobotsOverview: an experimental mechanism that uses a living Madagascan hissing cockroach atop a modified trackball to control a three-wheeled robot. If the cockroach moves left, the robot moves left. Infrared sensors also provide navigation feedback to the cockroach, striving to create a pseudo-intelligent system with the cockroach as the CPU. Garnet Hertz, creator of Fly with Implanted Webserver and Cockroach with Wireless Video, has used Gromphadorhina portentosa on three generations of autonomous roachbots (YouTube video and Ars Electronica 2005 gallery).
posted by cenoxo (29 comments total)
I know that I've been disappointed with traditional cockroaches. I trust the enhanced version can fulfil all my disease-spreading and girlfriend-freaking requirements.
posted by pompomtom at 9:04 PM on May 22, 2006

So this is how it starts. It was bound to come down to a fight between us and the roaches, and we had to go and give them robot bodies. That's just awesome.
posted by Rusty Iron at 9:15 PM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

This is no way to get chicks
posted by celerystick at 9:16 PM on May 22, 2006

It looks really useless, and yet, it's totally disturbing. That is screwed up.
It's funny, I'm a programmer, but once we start getting cyborg-cockroaches and brain-uploads, I'm getting right the fuck out of here. Straight to Tibet. You guys have fun.
posted by blacklite at 9:25 PM on May 22, 2006

Straight to Tibet. You guys have fun.

Sorry. Not a good idea.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:29 PM on May 22, 2006

See also, slime mold.
posted by 517 at 9:33 PM on May 22, 2006

Just in case anyone was wondering, as I was, "Uhhh, nice, and this is good for what?," toward the bottom of this page is FAQ complete with Rational and Goals of the Project.

So this is how it starts. It was bound to come down to a fight between us and the roaches, and we had to go and give them robot bodies. That's just awesome.
posted by Rusty Iron at 12:15 AM EST on May 23

That made me laugh. At least they have't mounted lasers on them yet.
posted by marxchivist at 9:53 PM on May 22, 2006

I, for one, do not welcome our new cylon/cockroach overlords.
posted by Goofyy at 9:58 PM on May 22, 2006

Next: Sharks.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:13 PM on May 22, 2006

Velcro to mount the roach jockeys. They are into it, cuz they are not angry (hissing), says the scientist.

posted by celerystick at 10:14 PM on May 22, 2006

Blacklite, you'd better start brushing up.

The 5th Element roachcam.

From the March 17, 2006 ComputerWorld article, U.S. Department of Defense Seeks Proposals on Remote-Controlled Insect-Cyborgs:
The Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) program is the responsibility of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is soliciting research proposals on the technology.

The insects would be outfitted with sensors and a wireless transmitter designed to enable them to send data on conditions in places inaccessible to human troops. The goal of the program is to produce a sensor-enabled insect with a 100-yard range that could be placed within five meters of a target using electronic remote control and, potentially, Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies.
DARPA's official HI-MEMS proposal request is available here.
posted by cenoxo at 10:36 PM on May 22, 2006

This is the best thing.

I mean that, I'm pretty this is like the plot of Sirens of Titan.

The entirety of human civilizations has been building to this point, the roaches were here long before human kind, and they know they will be around for a very long time, so they are pretty patient no doubt.

One day they decided they needed some wheels, so they manipulated evolution in billions on tiny unseen ways to produce us and once we have refined this device to the roaches satisfaction our purpose in life will be complete and the roaches will have us recalled, leaving the roaches free to roam their rightful earth, each with a fine set of wheels.
posted by Jezztek at 10:44 PM on May 22, 2006

If that don't beat all. Segways for roaches.
posted by flabdablet at 11:33 PM on May 22, 2006

So these are what are nesting in keyboards.
(good post)
posted by Rumple at 11:33 PM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

If they get out of control we can influence them with the Insbot robot infiltrator.
posted by tellurian at 12:13 AM on May 23, 2006

Hissing cockroaches have a way lower creepiness factor than the flying variety that occasionally seem like they're trying to kamikaze into your mouth.
posted by juv3nal at 2:44 AM on May 23, 2006

I don't get it -- it's definitely not a robot body. It's basically 90% upside down analog mouse. The only thing novel or interesting is the attempt to steer the cockroach using light cues, and it doesn't sound like that's working too well.
posted by ori at 3:08 AM on May 23, 2006

Neon Genesis Evangelion Cockroach.

This also made me laugh:

The insects I use lead normal, healthy lives: if you don't believe me, send me your address and I'll slip some eggs under your front door.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:12 AM on May 23, 2006

This ground-breaking technology will allow cockroaches to explore hostile environments their fragile bodies could not otherwise endure.

On preview, hook this guy up to WOW and he'll frag everything in sight.
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:10 AM on May 23, 2006

Tellurian said: ...we can influence them with the Insbot robot infiltrator.
To the human eye it might not look much like an insect, but cockroach pheromones and carefully programmed behaviour are enough to convince real roaches that it is one of the gang.
To get the robots to behave like real insects the team developed a mathematical model of cockroach behaviour by observing real ones. Tweaking this model suggested ways that the robot infiltrator might steer the behaviour of the whole group by exploiting the creatures' tendency to follow one another.
I've always wondered why corporate and political suits wear so much cologne...
posted by cenoxo at 6:13 AM on May 23, 2006

Wow, I read about this a while ago, but mere words didn't do it justice. Seeing the picture really has me conflicted: On the one hand, I loves me some cyborgs, especially the ethically questionable Dr. Frankenstein stuff. But on the other hand, they're freakin' giant roaches, for god's sake. Unless the purpose of the implant is to torture the bug before killing it, I have to come down against this.
posted by Gamblor at 6:53 AM on May 23, 2006

Gamblor, there's nothing implanted in the cockroach's body: it's just temporarily velcroed to a metal bracket so it can be suspended slighty above the ping-pong trackball.

See The Cockroach On The Robot section of the FAQ (towards the bottom of the main page.)
posted by cenoxo at 7:33 AM on May 23, 2006

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the second we replace human soldiers with cockroach-piloted power-suits we will have effecitvely surrendered our control of the planet.
posted by nixerman at 7:35 AM on May 23, 2006

Well, if you don't want to use a hissing cockroach for a cyborg, you can always wear a jewelled live one [article with video] on your lapel.
posted by nickyskye at 9:37 AM on May 23, 2006

Cockroaches are nasty no matter what you do with them. They just seem to have cornered the market on sheer ugliness.
posted by Nicholas West at 9:55 AM on May 23, 2006

there's nothing implanted in the cockroach's body

What? Look, if you can't even be bothered to create a proper cyborg out of a roach, then what's the point? I don't want to play video games against the damned thing. I want to make it dance for my pleasure!
posted by Gamblor at 10:35 AM on May 23, 2006

Ahhh! Killitkillitkillitkillitkillit!!!!
*stomp* *stomp* *stomp*
posted by Smedleyman at 11:13 AM on May 23, 2006

From the rationale:
"After we've all killed each other in WWIII with biomimetic robots, the earth will be happily inhabited by cockroaches. These insects will need something to drive on all of the abandoned freeway"
And Gill Grissom will be there with his Q-tips
posted by Cranberry at 2:25 PM on May 23, 2006

Just another example of arthropodan conspicuous consumption.

posted by missbossy at 11:42 PM on May 23, 2006

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