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The cockroaches were remotely controlled on pre-determined courses

Rescuers looking to navigate disaster areas could benefit from a very odd duo: cockroaches and Microsoft's Kinect. 

Researchers from North Carolina State University -- led by Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State -- are using the Kinect to remotely control cockroaches through planned courses. 

The team coupled the Kinect with an electronic interface designed at NC State. Using this system, the cockroaches can be controlled remotely to follow a course.

The cockroaches are made to navigate these courses through wires attached to their antennae and cerci. The cerci are sensory organs that allow the cockroaches to detect predators through movements in the air, and move away accordingly. With wires on the cerci, the team can move the cockroaches into motion, and with wires on the antennae, the team can send small charges to make the cockroach think it has contacted a barrier -- thus making it move in the opposite direction. 

As the cockroach is remotely controlled through the determined path, the Kinect tracks its movements and progress. The Kinect also lets the team see how the cockroaches react to the wires so that they can adjust their technique (if needed) for greater precision through the course. 

While this isn't the team's first run with remotely controlling cockroaches, this is its first study using the Kinect alongside the experiment. 

"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," said Bozkurt. "The autopilot program would control the roaches, sending them on the most efficient routes to provide rescuers with a comprehensive view of the situation."

Source: Science Daily

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The Cockroach is a Perfect Victim
By churruta on 6/26/2013 11:10:47 AM , Rating: -1
NCSU scientists engaged in this kind of work have traded away any sense of empathy for living creatures in favor of the intellectual and emotional high that comes from developing new technology for technology's sake and oppressively controlling a weaker being. Don't be fooled by the pablum about helping humanity. Concurrent with this project are many others in which tiny robots are being developed that will be able to accomplish the same thing and more for disaster intervention. The concept and development of "biobots" adds yet another deplorable example to the ever-growing list and history of violations of the physical and psychological well being of humans and non-human animals in the name of science. The cockroach is a perfect victim for this kind of torture. First, it is an insect and therefore vulnerable to assumptions, ideologies and biases that claim this type of animal is no more sentient than a robot (bunk). Further, the cockroach is an animal detested by many of us, so it's easier to justify abusing it or at least ignoring its suffering (morally inexcusable). As technological "progress" becomes increasingly more seductive, invasive and oppressive, we as humans, participants in society and fellow inhabitants of this planet must become more vigilant about and sensitive to the impact and implications of our overwhelming desire to explore, exploit and control.

By maverick85wd on 6/26/2013 11:21:55 AM , Rating: 2
I interviewed for a position doing neurological probe studies on mice. The mice had hats surgically grafted to their heads, along with an array of probes. After the experiment they were destroyed to recover the device. The part of the project they talked about was collecting data for processing to determine what certain brain signatures meant ie. what is a left arm movement in a certain direction, right arm movement, etc. Funding was from a government entity interested in thought-controlled prosthetics. The part they didn't talk about as much was controlling the subject by applying a topical solution to the brain and bombarding nerve cells with certain colors of light. There was talk of possible tests on human subjects, though I'm fairly sure that was just for data collection not control. At any rate, an ever changing world we live in for sure.

RE: The Cockroach is a Perfect Victim
By R3T4rd on 6/26/2013 11:54:04 AM , Rating: 2

I will be damned. Us humans have no empathy for life. Poor little cockcroaches.

Next time there is a disaster similar to Chernobyl, you will be the first to go in. Be that heroe that changes the world.

By MZperX on 6/26/2013 12:30:38 PM , Rating: 2
As a connoisseur of sarcasm I appreciate your post :)

RE: The Cockroach is a Perfect Victim
By Schrag4 on 6/26/13, Rating: 0
RE: The Cockroach is a Perfect Victim
By boeush on 6/26/2013 12:50:56 PM , Rating: 2
On the other hand, a cockroach has more of a functional mind (and thus is more of an individual) than those unborn "children"...

RE: The Cockroach is a Perfect Victim
By althaz on 6/26/2013 8:53:29 PM , Rating: 2
Whilst I suppport a woman's right to choose, this is categorically not true, depending on how far along the pregnancy is.

The cockroach is a lot more capable of survival, but let's not pretend it's got anywhere near the brain capacity of even a half-developed foetus.

RE: The Cockroach is a Perfect Victim
By boeush on 6/26/2013 10:54:17 PM , Rating: 1
US statistics from
88-92% of all abortions happen during the first trimester, prior to the 13th week of gestation (AGI/CDC). In 2009, 7% of all abortions were performed at 14-20 weeks' gestation; 1.3% were performed at =21 weeks' gestation (CDC).
So, how far along the pregnancy are you talking about?

I'd say a fetus starts to approach the cognitive level (though obviously not the viability) of a cockroach somewhere around week 26 of gestation -- that's when some of its most basic motor reflex arcs are formed. (That doesn't mean it's in any sense capable of consciousness or any sort of a human-like mind, never mind self-awareness. The formation of the neocortex, which is responsible for all of the higher human brain functions, doesn't really kick off until about the 27th week of gestation; whereas the mid-brain, which regulates sensory perception and emotional responses, doesn't really come into being until at least the 31st week.) See e.g.

Yet, 98.7% of all abortions occur before or during week 20 (and overwhelmingly skewing much earlier.)

Of the remaining 1.3%, by far most occur before the end of the second trimester. According to FOX News (yes, that's right), as of 2003 in U.S. only 0.01% of all abortions occured in the third trimester (that is, past week 24 of gestation):,2933,880,00.html

For further context, full term is considered to be 39 weeks and 6 days.

So, with the above in mind:
The cockroach is a lot more capable of survival, but let's not pretend it's got anywhere near the brain capacity of even a half-developed foetus.
Still think that, do you?

Mind, sheer size of the brain doesn't mean squat when it comes to the brain's degree of organization or actual functional capability. In the same way that a ton of raw sand plus a few ounces of dopants represent a lot more raw material than a single modern CPU, but the latter can compute a hell of a lot better...

RE: The Cockroach is a Perfect Victim
By boeush on 6/26/2013 11:20:07 PM , Rating: 1
To emphasize a point, and for further perspective on third-trimester (late-term) abortions: 0.01% of the annual 1.5 million abortions in the U.S. (as of 2003), means only about 150 occurred in the third trimester.

That's 150 late-term abortions per year, amid a population of 300 million +.

Bet you anything most, if not all, of those are due to medical emergencies of some kind (e.g. life-threatening complications from pregnancy, severe illness of the mother making her incapable of sustaining the pregnancy, belatedly-discovered severe fetal defects, dead fetus, etc.)

Yet when anti-abortion zealots talk about "murder" of unborn "babies" or "children", they really are talking about a small fraction of late-term abortions. Because prior to well into the third trimester, there's quite clearly no person there to 'murder' yet: an insufficiently developed brain means there's no mind even approaching that of a comatose rat, to say nothing of even the most demented human being.

RE: The Cockroach is a Perfect Victim
By BRB29 on 6/27/2013 8:11:29 AM , Rating: 2
Who the hell cares. Are you guys seriously comparing cockroaches to abortions?

People kill them on the daily. We sell products to kill them everywhere. People make careers out of killing them. Everyone finds them disgusting.

What's next? we're going to fight over ants too?

By invidious on 6/26/2013 1:06:15 PM , Rating: 2
How can people be so naive as to pretend that this is something new or irregular? Biological experimentation has been prevalent for hundreds if not thousands of years. It’s part of human nature's drive to explore and control. Every individual is guilty of devaluing the pain and suffering of lesser animals to some degree. How is stepping on a cockroach not worse than putting electrodes on its antennae?

It's not restricted to humans. Cats toy with living mice before they eat them or just get bored of them. Lions eat their prey without bothering to kill it in order to maximize the time before it spoils. Living things do what they must to survive and thrive. Biologically nothing else matters. The only thing specific to humans is the morality and guilt we impose on ourselves when circumstance allows for such comforts.

It may seem noble to preach against its practice and urge others to suppress the urges. But we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. I don't see very many of use forsaking all of the "ill gotten" gains in favor of a vegan isolationist existence with no health care or technology.

By japlha on 6/26/2013 1:45:03 PM , Rating: 1
The reality is we value the lives of humans (and in turn the lives of close family members) more than we value the lives of other animals, insects, plants, etc. The lines do get blurred as organisms less resemble ourselves. Also the type of control inflicted affects our moral intuitions.

Every life form does what it can to survive. The fact that we're just better at it than any other lifeform on this planet doesn't change the nature of what we are.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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