Build Your Swarm: Control Cockroaches for Under $30!

Have you ever wanted to control an army of cockroaches? We’ve all seen remote control cockroaches before — and they really are quite a fascinating specimen to work with — but did you know you can control one for about $30 worth of components, with a Arduino Micro?

It’s actually pretty simple. By stimulating a cockroaches antenna with variable frequencies (to mimic neural signals) you can convince the cockroach that they’ve hit a wall and should turn the other way. What results is a remote-controlled roach. How cool is that!

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Cockroach pimps a sweet ride

This giant Madagascar hissing cockroach rides proudly atop his three-wheeled robotic platform. This project from several years ago is new to us and our reaction to the video after the break is mixed. We find ourselves creeped out, delighted, amazed, and saddened.

The cockroach controlled robot uses a trackball type input. A ping-pong ball is spun by a cockroach perched on top. The lucky or tortured (depending on how you look at it) little bug has an array of lights in front of it that illuminate when obstacles are in front of the robot. The roach’s natural aversion to light should make it move its legs away from that part of the display, thereby moving the robot away from the obstruction.

We’ve seen some bio-hacking in the past. There were robots that run off of rat brain cells and remote controlled beetles. But none of these projects make us want to get into this type of experimentation. How about you?

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Fast little hexapods

We’ve posted many many times about hexapods. One of the most common comments, aside from how creepy they are, is about their speed. Hexapods are generally pretty slow. These little bots are quite a bit different though. The Sprawl and iSprawl, are anything but slow. Using a hybrid leg mechanism that aims its piston like “toes”, they mimic the motion of cockroaches. The video shows the speed can be pretty quick, especially the iSprawl in the second half. The leg mechanism the Sprawl is air powered, while the iSprawl uses a push/pull cable transmission system. As pointed out at BotJunkie, it’s nice for the “i” in iSprawl to actually mean something. It stands for “independent”.

[via BotJunkie]