Despite concerns over the ethics of human-controlled insects, the prototype ‘Robo-Roach’ could become man’s new best friend and be used to gather evidence from places no human could hope to reach.
After years of attempts, Texas engineers have created an insect cyborg by fusing a live cockroach with a miniature computer that is wired into its nervous system, meaning a human operator can push buttons to control where it scuttles.
Prophecy: “…many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” – Daniel 12:4 (KJV).
Hong Liang, research project leader at Texas A&M University, said the cyborg insect could carry tiny video cameras, microphones or other equipment to record information from small pipes, broken sewers, or even collapsed buildings to find earthquake survivors.
He said: “Insects can do things a robot cannot. They can go into small places, sense the environment, and if there’s movement, from a predator say, they can escape much better than a system designed by a human.
“We wanted to find ways to work with them.”
Usually classed as vermin and a restaurant owner’s worst nightmare, Mr Liang admitted he was initially repulsed by the cockroaches.
However, by working with the insects for so long he soon became fond of them, feeding them dog food and water.
The experiment has not been well-received across all quarters of the science community.
Sethu Vijayakumar, director of the Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour at the University of Edinburgh, said:
“As much as the technology is interesting, there are a lot of ethical issues before we go down that line, even with cockroaches.”
“Whenever you interface with another biological system, you have to look at whether the means justifies the ends.”
The Texan-based experts stuck miniature three-gramme rucksacks onto the cockroaches’ backs with paint, containing a computer chip – which sends signals down two tiny wires into the nervous system to control leg movement – and rechargeable battery.
Their report, titled ‘Locomotion control of hybrid cockroach robots’, said: “Through the control of the input signal using a transmitter, a user can control the locomotion of the discoid cockroach with high repeatability.
“The work presented herein reports advancement in more precise control of hybrid insects through direct neural stimulation, and opens new research windows for future development.”
However, the results showed at present the prototype is far from reliable with successful control occurring only 70 per cent of the time, meaning future models could include GPS tracking.
The insects can carry five times their weight, but do tire with the extra burden.
The report added: “The current system requires visual feedback from the operator in order to apply the necessary pulse characteristics to control the roach’s turning behaviour.
“This method requires the operator to have extensive experience, as well as constant visual contact with the roach.
“Therefore, future improvements to our backpack will include onboard sensors that can relay the locomotion behaviour of the roach without having to see its movements.”
Sensors may include a compass, device to measure speed, and GPS.
It added: “Other sensors may also be integrated into the roach backpack that can relay important information about the environment such as temperature, humidity and ambient gases.”
Cockroaches have been targeted by scientists hoping to turn them into part creature and part machine since at least 1997.
That year Isao Shimoyama, of the University of Tokyo, directed cockroaches by stimulating their antennae, to confuse them into thinking they bumped into something.
However it had limited effect and wore off after they learned to ignore the foreign pulse.
Last April, scientists injected unfolded strands of DNA, known as nanobots, into cockroaches in an experiment that found they could be controlled in a similar way to a computer and living cells could store data.
They hope one day the cockroach could store as much data as the 1980s Commodaore 64 8-bit computer and could be controlled to deliver drugs to cancer patients or diagnose illness.
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And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay -Daniel 2:43 (KJV).
And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months-Revelation 9:7-10 (KJV).
“Power and signs and lying wonders”…rejection of truth, and for this “God shall send them a strong delusion that they shall believe a lie” – 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 (KJV). Satan, has already set the stage for deception – he teaches today the lie of the immortal soul. “…Ye shall not surely die…then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ -Genesis 3:5 (KJV).
Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee -Leviticus 19:19 (KJV).
Insect Bug Drones