Those small creepy insects that you often found guilty of poisons, newspapers, and traps might turn into lifesavers in coming days. The news might not be welcomed by those suffering with entomophobia. A recent study at the North Carolina State University explains about the previous research that was conducted on cockroaches with remote control implants. These have now been dubbed into cyborgs called biobots. The team working at NCSU took the complete concept to a new level by involving software that has been developed to map path of these insects.
According to Edgar Lobaton, an assistant professor of computer and electrical engineering working at NCSU, “The idea would be to release a swarm of sensor-equipped biobots—such as remotely controlled cockroaches—into a collapsed building or other dangerous, unmapped area.” He is also one of the co-authors of this paper. The UAV is used here to direct the swarm and tell it where it needs to move next. It will greatly help the rescuers in obtaining roadmap of complex places that are not accessible normally.
Lobaton further explains, “A strong radio signal from the UAV could penetrate to a certain extent into a collapsed building, keeping the biobot swarm contained. And as long as we can get a signal from any part of the swarm, we are able to retrieve data on what the rest of the swarm is doing. Based on our experimental data, we know you’re going to lose track of a few individuals, but that shouldn’t prevent you from collecting enough data for mapping.” The researchers will then tie all maps together that are then registered through movement of these insects.
The technology has been examined with the help of one and a half inch long robots that monitor cockroach behavior. The testing was supported by a previous research conducted by Alper Bozkurt who is also an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the NCSU. The man played a key role in development of functional cockroach biobots previously. Lobaton says, “We had previously developed proof-of-concept software that allowed us to map small areas with biobots, but this work allows us to map much larger areas and to stitch those maps together into a comprehensive overview. It would be of much more practical use for helping to locate survivors after a disaster, finding a safe way to reach survivors, or for helping responders determine how structurally safe a building may be.”
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