Kinect helps researchers steer roaches to explore and map disaster sites

Kinect-controlled roaches

By incorporating a Microsoft Kinect into a proprietary electronic interface, researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) are able to track and remotely control cockroaches.

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Kinect helps researchers steer roaches to explore and map disaster sites

The researchers plot a path for the cockroach and use the Kinect to identify and track the insect’s progress, and with that data, steer the cockroaches along the desired path, according to an NCSU press release.

Researchers are able to control the roaches via an interface that is wired to the bug’s antennae and cerci. The wires attached to the antennae trick the roach into thinking that the antennae are in contact with a barrier and steering them in the opposite direction, while the wires attached to the cerci spur the roach into motion.

The goal of the project is to guide roaches as efficiently as possible, said Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State in the press release.

“We want to build on this program, incorporating mapping and radio frequency techniques that will allow us to use a small group of cockroaches to explore and map disaster sites,” Bozkurt says. “The autopilot program would control the roaches, sending them on the most efficient routes to provide rescuers with a comprehensive view of the situation.”

Roaches controlled by the Kinect-enabled system would also be equipped with sensors to detect survivors in collapsed buildings or other disaster areas. In the future, the roaches could even have small speakers, which would allow rescuers to communicate to people who are trapped.

View the North Carolina State University press release.

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