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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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