Let’s say the winter holiday season is rolling around, your family comes over and you ask your nieces, nephews, baby cousins, any little kids, so what would you want for Christmas or Hanukkah? They say the most expensive toy in the universe and you respond with excitement beaming from your eyes, well how about a brand new remote controlled cockroach!
What reaction do you expect you’ll receive, eight times out of ten it’ll probably be pure disgust or some brave child will scream cool! Well, that’s exactly what scientists at the North Carolina State University iBionics Laboratory are doing.
Well, not for consumerism rather to help locate earthquake survivors in hard to reach places. These new and improved roaches are surgically transformed into remote-controlled ‘biobots’ that sound like they will be quite useful in these situations once the system is mastered.
These biobots, short for biological robots, have a little backpack with the wireless control system attached by a glued magnet to their backs with electrodes that are surgically inserted into the roaches’ antennae and cerci, the sensors in their rear.
I know this sounds like something straight out of a Dexter’s Laboratory or Jimmy Neutron cartoon but I promise you, this is happening; we are learning to use these insects to our benefit besides being recognized only as creepy crawlies.
For anybody wondering if this is super inhumane, it’s really not as bad as you’d think as the whole process of mounting these tiny little electrode system is painless for the cockroach; they are placed in the cold as temperature acts as a natural anesthetic for these guys.
In addition, roaches and other insects don’t feel pain as other animals do. When scientists zap these little guys, they simply navigate around any obstacles they may notice without any pain involved.
So in the next couple of years, we should expect to see some remote controlled biobots helping humanity during natural disasters as opposed to scurrying away at the sight of movement by humans. Since we have all heard that roaches will survive an apocalypse, they sound pretty reliable for this job if, if you ask me.