Could Robotic Cockroaches Help Save Lives? - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Could Robotic Cockroaches Help Save Lives?

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Raleigh, NC -

This is not everybody's idea of a good time. "We are raised with a phobia against insects," says Dr. Alper Bozkurt, of North Carolina State University. "Cockroaches are our friends," he adds.

Doctor Bozkurt has a soft spot for Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. He's an assistant professor in computer and electrical engineering at North Carolina State University, and he's working to turn these insects into cyborgs.

"We implant electrodes to their antennae and we send tiny pulses, very small pulses, to their antennae," Dr. Bozkurt says.

As it walks, the insect feels the pulses, believes they are obstacles, and moves to avoid them. It took a few tries, but Dr. Bozkurt and his assistant found a cockroach that walked the line. As the assistant moves a joystick, the roach responds...moving around this u-shaped track.

Brian Shrader, reporting: "This kind of research isn't just interesting to watch, it could mark the start of a new era in search and rescue after disasters."

"Our ultimate goal is to use cockroaches in the rubble after natural disasters, like earthquakes, to find victims," says Dr. Bozkurt.

These remote-controlled cockroaches could find their way through cramped, dark spaces, carrying tiny microphones and listening for survivors.

Dr. Bozkurt and other scientists still have to work out the bugs, but these cockroaches could someday save your life.

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