Mind-controlling cockroaches

Producing micro robotics is not yet easy or cost-effective, but why do we need to when we can just control the minds of cockroaches? A team or researchers from North Carolina State University is calling this augmented Madagascar Hissing cockroach an Insect Biobot in their latest research paper (PDF). It’s not the first time the subject has come up. There have already been proofs in research and even more amateur endeavors. But the accuracy and control seen in the video after the break is beyond compare.

The roach is being controlled to perfectly follow a line on the floor. One of the things that makes this iteration work so well is that the microcontroller includes a new type of ADC-based feedback loop for the stimulation of the insect brain. This helps to ensure that the roach will not grow accustom to the stimulation and stop responding to it. Since this variety of insect can live for about two years, this breakthrough makes it into a reusable tool. We’re not sure what that tool will be used for, but perhaps the next plague of insects will be controlled by man, and not mother nature.

[Read more...]

Laser-triggered camera rig update: 2011 version

[Fotoopa] keeps churning out new iterations of his laser-triggered camera rig. This is his latest, which he calls the 2011 setup. Regular readers will remember that we just covered a different version back in November; that one was the 2010 rendition. It had two DSLR cameras offset by 90 degrees with mirrors to face forward. This time around he has gone back to the single camera setup which was what he used on the first and second versions seen way back in 2008.

Whew, that’s a lot of links to specialty DSLR hardware. Let’s bring it back to this newest model (the link at the top). The biggest improvement is the shutter delay between when the laser beam is tripped and the image is take. [Fotoopa] reports that he’s managed to reduce that time down to 3.3 milliseconds. This is thanks to an external shutter replacement which improves on the stock shutter’s 52 millisecond delay.

For those that are seeing this for the first time. [Fotoopa] uses this rig to photograph insects in motion. A laser trip wire is responsible for triggering the shutter, and it does so with stunning results!

Hacking together a bedbug exterminator

We’ve seen so many stories in the news about the growing plague of bedbugs. It kind of infuriates us because the spin of these “news” pieces is always that we’re going to have to live with these insects and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. Bullcorn! [Ed Nisley] was dealt a bum hand in the form of a bedbug infestation but instead of losing his mind he used it to get himself out of the mess. One of the steps in the dis-insecting process was to develop a bedbug killing box that raises the contents above the kill temperature for the pests. He built an insulated chamber, with a grate to raise the target material off the bottom and allow for heat exchange around all edges of the item. Light bulb combinations of 60, 100, and 120 Watts were tested along with a fan for air circulation. He graphed the results and plans to use what he learned to build a more efficient heater for the box.

But the hot box isn’t his only defense. His household developed barriers, blocking the insects by height or with a sticky zone. Check out the collection of his bedbug posts and stop being afraid of these things! We can fight back and we can do it using common items and ingenuity.

[Thanks Steven]

Radio controlled beetle flight footage

cyborg beetle

Earlier this year we were amazed when University of California researchers controlled a beetle via electrical implants. The video available at the time of the original report showed beetles tethered in place while electrical stimuli was applied via the chip. New video of free flight is has now been posted. Although the motion is rather sporadic, it is obvious that simple commands to start flight, stop flight, and turn left or right are having their intended effect. Check out this cyborg action after the break. Is DARPA one step closer to unleashing legions of insect warriors on unsuspecting masses? [Read more...]

Phasma insectoid

When we saw the video of the Phasma insectoid robot above, we immediately thought of the iSprawl. After checking out their site, it turns out that the two are connected in some way, we’re not sure how, maybe just inspiration. The Phasma gives us a little more insight into the construction of the bot. The photos are highly detailed so you can see how the drive works, using the sliding cables to extend the “feet”. It seems quite agile in the video. The drive system, working off of a single cam seems like it would be easy to convert to steam. We would love to see that.

[via the pink tentacle]

A-pod

We know it was just two days ago that we were ranting about the hexapods known as Phoenix, and their creator [Zenta]. In the comments on that post, [Bluehash] pointed us to [Zenta's] latest creation. This is A-pod. The sheer articulation and believable motion here made this robot worthy of a post all it’s own.  A-pod has a 2 dof “tail” and a 3 dof head with a total of 25 servos to drive it. The addition of the head adds so much character, add some face tracking and it would really blow us away. Well, after it fetched us a beer. He notes that he’s still working on the leg mechanicals, so it doesn’t do much walking yet.

Radio controlled beetle

beetle

Scientists at the university of California have managed to implant a chip in a giant flower beetle that makes it respond to commands from the computer. They can tell it to fly, stop, turn left and turn right.  The controls are done through its optic nerves and wing muscles. Though the article states that flight signals are sent to the optic lobes and steering is done through stimulation of the wing muscles, the video shows steering being accomplished through optic lobe stimulation.

Though we’re sure there’s some grand scientific goal behind this, we can’t help but think (hope) that we’ll be seeing giant robot controlled beetle battles with lasers and rockets.

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