Researchers at North Carolina State University in the United States, say they have developed a system by which cockroaches may actually perform search and rescue. Using Microsoft‘s motion-sensing technology Kinect, they plotted a path for cockroaches and tracked them.

Researchers guided the cockroaches into motion with wires attached to the bugs’ sensory appendages, and then they steered the insects by sending small electrical impulses to wires attached to their antennae.  Still, it begs the question: why the cockroach? Presumably it is their size as this could prove useful in navigating piles of rubble, and fewer people may have ethical qualms with, technically, electrocuting a cockroach into submission than, say, a kitten.

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By using the Kinect, researchers are able to guide the roaches in the dark, though they are going to have to come up with some workarounds to be able to see through rubble and debris. They also hope to fit the roaches with tiny microphones and speakers so that rescuers can both detect the voices of people who are trapped and tell them that help is on the way.In their experiments, the researchers sketched a path for the roaches, and had the Kinect system detect where they were relative to that path. The roaches wore the necessary circuitry on their exoskeletons.  “We want to build on this program, incorporating mapping and radiofrequency techniques that will allow us to use a small group of cockroaches to explore and map disaster sites,” said co-author Alper Bozkurt in a school news release. “The autopilot program would control the roaches, sending them on the most efficient routes to provide rescuers with a comprehensive view of the situation.”  Bozkurt and company plan to present their findings at the Remote Controlled Insect Biobots Minisymposium at the 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society on July 4 in Osaka, Japan.

[Image via: webnews]

SOURCE: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57591626-1/future-of-search-and-rescue-cockroaches-piloted-by-kinect/