Researchers Use Kinect to Remotely Control Cockroaches

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Researchers Use Kinect to Remotely Control Cockroaches

Researchers at North Carolina State University have taken the first step toward creating an army of unstoppable cyborg cockroaches .

Scientists seeking a way to turn cockroaches to the side of good have found a surprisingly simple method for doing so: with Kinect. The researchers wired test roaches with a small circuit that could send electrical impulses to their cerci (sensory organs on their abdomen) and antenna, causing them to move forward and change direction by remote control, and then tied the whole thing into a Kinect setup. The Kinect was then used to follow the roach's progress along a predetermined path, sending signals to steer it as required, and also collected data on how the roach responded to the impulses in order to assist in fine-tuning the system for greater precision.

It's equal parts cool and creepy, but there's a practical angle to the research as well, as the team hopes to eventually be able to use remote-controlled cockroaches to search for survivors in dangerous situations like collapsed buildings. The technology to steer the roaches by remote isn't actually new - Bozkurt's team originally unveiled it in September 2012 - but the use of Kinect to refine the control system and develop an autopilot is.

"We want to build on this program, incorporating mapping and radio frequency techniques that will allow us to use a small group of cockroaches to explore and map disaster sites," Bozkurt said. "The autopilot program would control the roaches, sending them on the most efficient routes to provide rescuers with a comprehensive view of the situation."

The team released a video showing the system in action and while it's clearly neither lightning fast nor pinpoint-precise at this stage, the bottom line is that it works: A machine has taken control of a cockroach and bent it to its will. I don't know which new overlord I should welcome first.

Source: NC State University


Slowly but surely we are turning into the Combine.

It has started! The Kinect is starting to control biological beings! We are doomed!

The ability to sic cockroaches on my enemies?

Now THIS is a killer app for the Xbox 180.

And thus yet again science proves better for the Kinect than actual gaming does.

Seriously the Kinect has so many good applications, just sucks for gaming. Heck I've seen it used for motion captures for SFM films like Practical Problems, and then in High School we used the Kinect to control our F.R.C robot instead of having to use the controllers and joysticks.

Anyone want to clarify something for me?

I've known about the remote control roaches. Get it, no problem.

So the Kinect is simply tracking the movement of the roaches from on high? How will this help building rubble navigation? Overhead cameras won't be able to help roaches navigate rubble, because hello, there's a dead building in the way. Kinect obviously can't go in with the bugs because a Kinect mounted to a bug is 'impractical' (durp).

How does the Kinect tie in to the product, or is it just a short term solution to help fine tune in a lab?

Also, I feel terrible for that roach. You can just see it screaming "RIGHT RIGHT I DON'T WANT TO F*ING TURN LEFT! WHY AM I MOVING THAT WAY AGGHHGHGH I'M NOT IN CONTROL OF MY BODY!" In order to make it more efficient we need to find out how to make it WANT to go our direction, not force it to. Although we can't really call the solution humane either way.


How does the Kinect tie in to the product, or is it just a short term solution to help fine tune in a lab?

It's just proof of concept.

I imagine the final "product" will use something like ground-penetrating radar to guide the roach swarm.

As to why you would use roaches to scout a collapsed building when you have ground-penetrating radar available... I have no answer.

One day someone will don spandex and become....... "Cockroach Man!" saving or enslaving humanity with the legions of almost unkillable insects.

OT: I wonder how people will react to seeing a swarm of roaches carrying them away for rescue?

I don't see the big fuss, we've known the Kinect was buggy for a while now...

In all seriousness, this is quite impressive, though the thought that the roaches that show up from time to time are being sent here by someone across the road who wants to troll me and my family is quite frightening.

And here I was thinking the headline was a crack on XB1 buyers....

So the bottom line is that cockroaches are better with Kinect?

If they shipped that with the Xbox One, I might've bought it :p

Any dinky shit webcam could be used for the exact same purpose... I'm guessing they are just fulfilling a contractual obligation to name sponsors dinky shit webcams.

Don't worry, I know how to stop them.

"Cockroach, off."

Uhhh, no. I don't want there to be remote control cochroaches. Soon, they'll be making them drop eggs on command and therefore be able to infest people's houses at will, then claim it was god's will or some crap like that. PASS.

Any dinky shit webcam could be used for the exact same purpose... I'm guessing they are just fulfilling a contractual obligation to name sponsors dinky shit webcams.

A) the Kinect is 2 shitty web cameras.
B) the Kinect has an impressive amount of stuff done on-chip to actually deliver a 3D skeletal model instead of the usual 2D colour-matching raster system you'd use iwth a single webcam.

Any technology developed in times of peace finds a military application, and this worries me greatly. Not remote-controlling cockraoches in particular, but what could become of this tech if it's going to be developed further.

Any dinky shit webcam could be used for the exact same purpose... I'm guessing they are just fulfilling a contractual obligation to name sponsors dinky shit webcams.

Kinect has all the motion tracking integrated in it. I'm pretty sure using it, was way easier than making the motion tracking yourself, using a "dinky shit webcam".
Besides "Researchers Use Dinky Shit Webcam to Remotely Control Cockroaches" sound dull.

First some roaches, then us.

Aww, if only I had facebook. To this guy in the facebook comments:

Stefano Esposito · Top Commenter
Great, now finally we can control politicians.

Left! Left! Left!

What an amazing advancement for science! We finally found a use for the kinect! Other then spying on me while I masturbate to dolphin porn, that is.

Always nice when people find something interesting or useful to do with the Kinect. Now, if only games devs could figure it out.

King of Asgaard:
I don't see the big fuss, we've known the Kinect was buggy for a while now.

I feel like this deserves a


Not sure about this, it seems to be going a little too far down the creepy side of science. Controlling living beings with a computer terminal, or worse with a simplified algorithm... I'm just not comfortable with that idea.

Did anyone watch that and think roach nascar? So many orders to turn left, hell yeah!

So how long before they start kidnapping people and implant some electronics into their bodies to make a private army or remote controlled cybermen or something like that?

The PS4 will be $100 USD less expensive, and have nothing to do with cockroaches.

In the words of Cave Johnson, science isn't about why, it's about why not?

Seriously, how do they present these ideas to get funding for them?

Wake me when Super Battle Bugs for the Kinect is a thing...

Otherwise, like I needed another reason to assume the Kinect could be creepy!

Already a Kickstarter for controlling a cockroach via your smart phone...

Because cyber-converting insects is a thing that must happen! ( seems...)

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that when I'm buried under countless feet of rubble, the last thing I want to see is a large swarm of cyborg roaches closing in.

Don't you people see what's happening?
Anyone who buys the Xbone will clearly have the same level of intelligence as a cockroach. This means that Microsoft will be able to control them too!
These scientists are trying to warn us all of the impending army of zombified, retarded fanboys which MS are about to unleash.

So ... yeah I'm a bit confused. Are they going to use a Kinect to transmit where they want the cockroach to go? And have tiny little medical grade cameras attached to them for building collapses? I thought they already had remote control robots for this sort of thing?

I mean, I get it. Cockroaches are likely smaller than said robots, but I can't see how they could make the ockroach more responsive than a human piloted RC search robot. That and RC robot will be far more durable against flooding and collapsing material. So, the point is? I mean it's interesting but it doesn't sem that useful to me.

Does this mean I can become a super-villian with a mighty roach army if I buy an XBone? If so I'm totally sold.

Is it wrong that I feel bad for the Roach? I mean, he obviously doesn't wanna go left, and yet, the Kinnect/wired Antennae is forcing him to keep turning left against his will...

CAPTCHA: it is different.

You got that right CAPTCHA... You got that right.

This is science at its finest.

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