These cyborg cockroaches could help rescue victims in collapsed buildings

Contributed by
Nov 12, 2014

One of the hardest things for rescue workers to do in the event of a building collapse is find victims who are still alive, trapped beneath layers of concrete and steel rubble. Turns out all we needed were some cyborg roaches.

Rescuers already use animals like dogs to help find victims, while snake-like robots and other tech is also in development — but a team of engineers at North Carolina State University believe cyborg cockroaches could be the key to saving lives.

According to Popular Science, they’ve developed a way to locate survivors in collapsed buildings using swarms of cockroaches equipped with microphones. The microphone array is literally plugged into the cockroach, while the “biobots” are also tracked in three dimensions by the team.

Here’s how the paper’s co-author Alper Bozkurt explained the project:

“The goal is to use the biobots with high-resolution microphones to differentiate between sounds that matter – like people calling for help – from sounds that don’t matter – like a leaking pipe. Once we’ve identified sounds that matter, we can use the biobots equipped with microphone arrays to zero in on where those sounds are coming from.”

But it goes even further than just having all these wandering (albeit kinda creepy) mini-microphones in the disaster zone. The roaches can be steered toward victims to help zero in the location (and to probably terrify the victims as well) — and they’ve designed an “invisible fence” to keep the roaches from just wandering out of the disaster site. The microphones are solar-powered, so ideally they’ll keep on working for extended rescue operations.

Do you think cyborg roaches are the future of disaster recovery?

(Via Popular Science)

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