Using Microsoft's motion-sensing Kinect, they plotted a path for cockroaches and tracked them. Researchers nudged the roaches into motion with wires attached to the bugs' sensory appendages, and they steered the roaches by sending small electrical impulses to wires attached to the bugs' antennae. The old-fashioned horse and whip are just so crude by comparison.
Still, why the cockroach? Presumably their size could prove useful in navigating piles of rubble, and fewer people may have ethical qualms with zapping a roach into submission than, say, a puppy.
In their experiments, the researchers sketched a path for the roaches, and had the Kinect system detect where they were relative to that path. The roaches wore the necessary circuitry on their exoskeletons, like miniature Atlases bearing their burdens on their backs.
By using the Kinect, researchers are able to guide the roaches in the dark, though they are going to have to come up with a workaround to be able to see through rubble and debris. They also hope to fit the roaches with ... [Read more]