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Cyborg Cockroach and Drone Teams Can Locate Disaster Survivors

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Insects can go where other rescuers cannot.

Researchers have developed cyborg cockroaches that can serve as search-and-rescue scouts during disasters.

Credit: Osman Orsal/Reuters

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed cyborg cockroaches to serve as search-and-rescue scouts during disasters.

The cyber insects have tiny electrodes implanted to serve as an electronic bridle. "This stimulates the antennae, which they use to understand their physical environment," says team leader Alper Bozkurt.

The cyber insects would collectively rely on a drone to beam an invisible radio "fence" for them to search. In addition, sensor backpacks network them together and enable data gathered to be relayed to the cyber insect closest to the drone for uploading.

Some of the cyber insects would use low-resolution directional microphones to listen for sounds as they move around the disaster area. Infrared sensors can help them find warm bodies, but they also can use propane sensors to detect gas leaks and a Geiger counter to assess radioactivity, according to Bozkurt.

The team has run simulations, but plans to perform real-world tests in the next two months.

From New Scientist
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