NCSU professor's remote-controlled cockroaches built to save lives

Posted September 11, 2013

— Remote-controlled cars and airplanes are nothing new, but a North Carolina State University professor hopes his remote-controlled cockroaches catch on – not for entertainment, but as a way to save people in life-threatening situations.

“We are raised with a phobia against insects,” said Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Cockroaches are our friends.”

Bozkurt and his colleagues received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create insect cyborgs – living cockroaches outfitted with artificial implants.

“We implant electrodes to their antennae, and we send tiny pulses – very small pulses – to their antennae,” he said.

Remote-controlled cockroaches Cockroach cyborgs could save lives

Using a remote control, Bozkurt and his colleagues can direct the Madagascar hissing cockroaches where to crawl. As it walks, the insect feels the pulses, believes they are obstacles and moves to avoid them.

“Our ultimate goal is to use cockroaches in the rubble after a natural disaster to find victims,” Bozkurt said, adding that he wants the insects to be able to remotely crawl through cramped, dark spaces, carrying tiny microphones, so rescuers can search through the debris.

Bozkurt and his colleagues recently teamed with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study ways to control moths as well.


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  • Trusting Sep 12, 2013

    Oh yeah as if being under the weight of a crushing building doesn't have me already in a panic mode now you are going to taunt me with a remote roach.

  • Whatev333 Sep 12, 2013

    We have enough cockroaches that are being remotely controlled... in the NCGA.

  • southernborn24 Sep 12, 2013

    Just proves that people are becoming "educated beyond their intelligence".

  • luvbailey Sep 12, 2013

    No wonder we are 17 trillion in the hole.

  • Obamacare for everyone Sep 12, 2013

    Waiting for the Minority Report spiders to come crawling.

  • Black HelicoptersNFood Insurance Sep 12, 2013

    I am still waiting on Clinton's "smart bombs" to come through my kitchen window....oh, sorry it's Obama's drones watching me take out the trash....wait, now it's Hillary’s cockroaches come to spy on me sleeping??? Can’t keep up with my talking points ;)

  • rushbot Sep 12, 2013

    great..just great..the gub'mint is comin' to get us..first it was black suvs and black was the black drones..and now..cockroaches..let's all run down to the corner store and buy tin foil to make helmets so they can't read our thoughts...

  • heard-it-all-before Sep 12, 2013

    they're always built to save lives first. then once it becomes helpful, the federal government purchases it for the military

  • this is my Screen Name Sep 12, 2013

    Politicians and cockroaches could pretty much be considered equals.

  • pappybigtuna1 Sep 12, 2013

    Yea sure, I wonder who teaches the cockroaches to scatter when the lights come on.

    I'm thinking that could start a war if we release roaches in someone else's country

    Crunching a roach under foot in the morning - sounds like "victory"