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The robot roach interacting with its live counterparts
New robots mimic, confuse live insects

A group of researchers led by Jose Halloy from the Université Libré de Bruxelles has succeeded in building a robotic cockroach convincing enough to fool the real thing. 

The robots looked nothing like real cockroaches, but were programmed with similiar behavior patterns.  Initially, the live bugs fled in fear from their robotic counterparts until Halloy hit upon the idea of coating his creations with roach pheremones.   The chemicals, which gave the robots the unique "smell" of a live roach, allowed the machines to be accepted as normal members of the roach clan. 

Most importantly, the robot cockroaches were actually able influence the behavior of the entire clan.  Normally cockroaches prefer dark places, and make a "collective" decision to pick a common shelter.  However, robotic infiltrators programmed to prefer brightly-lit shelters were often able to convince the entire roach clan to migrate to the new area.

In other cases, the live cockroaches were able to override the programming of the robots and force them to continue to nest in dark shelters.  According to Halloy, such experiments are critical to understanding the basis of biological intelligence and decision-making.

Halloy said his next step may be to build a robot chicken convincing enough for baby chicks to accept.  His research appears in the Thursday edition of the journal Science.


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RE: Wow... so what
By masher2 (blog) on 11/16/2007 2:18:23 PM , Rating: 3
The pheremones simply convinced the live bugs to accept the robots as real. The "new" part is the robotic behavior which, in a wholly autonomous manner, managed to participate in and influence the decision-making process of a community of insects.


RE: Wow... so what
By sj420 on 11/16/07, Rating: -1
RE: Wow... so what
By sj420 on 11/16/2007 2:40:14 PM , Rating: 2
Wait wtf is the box in the middle the bot they are talking about? This is starting to confuse me I have to get away from this picture now.

I keep thinking of pheromones and the song "Whats that smell"

....Can you smell that smell?


RE: Wow... so what
By Parhel on 11/16/2007 3:08:36 PM , Rating: 2
I thought the same thing at first. Now I think, though, that the box in the center is the fake roach and all the others are real. In the article it said it looked nothing like a real roach, but it wasn't clear if they meant the early prototypes or the current one.


RE: Wow... so what
By glitchc on 11/16/2007 6:31:37 PM , Rating: 2
You're correct. There's no reason for it to look like a real roach, since the roaches cannot "see" very well in the conventional sense. Most insects do not have well-developed vision systems, make distinctions based on smell and touch. Some rely on sound as well. The high def vision we humans carry is very uncommon in nature. You need a pretty sophisticated brain to process the necessary visual algorithms in reasonably real-time.


RE: Wow... so what
By FITCamaro on 11/16/2007 11:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
So why do flies have 100s of eyes and process their sight many times faster than humans?


RE: Wow... so what
By AraH on 11/17/2007 9:14:58 AM , Rating: 2
"Compared with single-aperture eyes, compound eyes have poor image resolution; however, they possess a very large view angle and the ability to detect fast movement and, in some cases, the polarization of light." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compound_eye

they are more worried about movement than image quality...


RE: Wow... so what
By therealnickdanger on 11/16/2007 2:40:52 PM , Rating: 2
Time to influence them all to eat some poison.


RE: Wow... so what
By nekobawt on 11/17/2007 10:52:12 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly what I was thinking, though my brain went more along the line of roachbot-spy-as-mobile-roach-motel.

Picture it--"Roachbot Prime" infiltrates the cockroach home base, then lets loose with an insecticide, and/or some kind of sterilizing agent for the survivors of the initial attack. Sure, I can think of a few ways that could go horribly (horribly!) wrong, but the possibilities are endless!

Ah, science. :)


RE: Wow... so what
By dare2savefreedom on 11/17/2007 10:59:25 PM , Rating: 2
Its easy to kill them:
0) lay down line of paste stuff that comes in a needle from walmart
1) wait for roach to come and eat line like coke
2) while he is eating draw lines of poison on his back
3) when he goes back home he will take poison back for others to eat him
4) don't see roaches no mo'

and this works on the "big, Corellian ships"

I'm not sure about the 6 inch ones that are black and can fly.


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