If you're ever trapped in a collapsed building and are calling for help, you might want to think twice before squashing any cockroaches that wander your way – one of them might have been sent to find you. Researchers from North Carolina State University are currently laying the groundwork for such a scenario, by getting cyborg-like "biobot" cockroaches to move towards sounds. Down the road, such insects may be used to locate victims at disaster sites.
We've been hearing a lot about the development of tiny flying sensor-equipped robots
, that could be sent into areas such as disaster sites to seek out survivors or survey the damage. However, why go to the trouble of designing those robots from scratch, when there are already ready-made insects that are about the right size? That's the thinking behind research being conducted at North Carolina State University, which is aimed at converting moths into "biobots."
Earlier this month, we heard about an MIT project in which test subjects were equipped with an extra set of robotic arms
in order to help them perform tasks. While the technology is certainly intriguing, some people might find the concept of a four-armed cyborg to be a little ... much. If you're one of those people, then you might be more comfortable with another ongoing MIT project. It's just aimed at giving people two extra robotic fingers
Face computers like Google Glass have their advantages. But when you start talking about the disadvantages
of Glass, one of the big topics that keeps coming up is a general disconnection from your surroundings. Keep an eye out for our full Google Glass review, but in the meantime, we have some more thoughts on the subject from our time beta-testing it.
Living remote-control cockroaches
are now a thing. They actually exist. Besides wowing people and sparking ethics debates, however, the cyborg insects may ultimately have some very worthwhile applications. A team led by North Carolina State University's Dr. Edgar Lobaton has brought one of those applications a step closer to reality, by developing software that would allow "swarms" of the cockroaches to map hazardous environments such as collapsed buildings.
There has been no shortage of uses floated for Microsoft's Xbox Kinect that go beyond the realm of gaming, from 3D modeling
to docking satellites
and even garbage catching
. Now we can add controlling cyborg cockroaches to the list. As part of ongoing research into piloting biobots
, researchers at North Carolina State University have used the video game technology to put roaches on autopilot.
It took some time, but the age of the cyborg is upon us. For the first time, neuromuscular electrodes that enable a prosthetic arm and hand to be controlled by thought have been permanently implanted into the nerves and muscles of an amputee. The operation was carried out recently by a surgical team led by Dr Rickard Brånemark at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden.
Much to the annoyance of home-owners everywhere, cockroaches are amazingly tough, and they’re able to squeeze into remarkably small spaces. These are some of the same qualities that researchers would like to see in tiny reconnaissance robots that could perform tasks such as searching earthquake-damaged buildings for survivors. Such adaptable, robust mini-robots would be quite challenging to create, however. A team of scientists from North Carolina State University are working on an alternative – sensor-equipped real
cockroaches that are remotely controlled by human operators.
Under its human skin, James Cameron’s Terminator
was a fully-armored cyborg built out of a strong, easy-to-spot hyperalloy combat chassis – but judging from recent developments, it looks like Philip K. Dick and his hard-to-recognize replicants actually got it right. In a collaboration between Harvard, MIT and Boston Children's Hospital, researchers have figured out how to grow three-dimensional samples of artificial tissue that are very intimately embedded within nanometer-scale electronics, to such an extent that it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. It could lead to a breakthrough approach to studying biological tissues on the nanoscale, and may one day be used as an efficient, real-time drug delivery system – and perhaps, why not, even to build next-generation androids.
Earlier this year we reported that researchers had implanted a cockroach
with an enzyme-based biofuel cell that could potentially be used to power various sensors, recording devices, or electronics used to control an insect cyborg. While it may not be the most dynamic of creatures, a team from Clarkson University has now performed a similar feat with a living snail.