Artificial Intelligence Powers A Wasp-Killing Machine

At the time of publication, Hackaday is of the understanding that there is no pro-wasp lobby active in the United States or abroad. Why? Well, the wasp is an insect that is considered incapable of any viable economic contribution to society, and thus has few to no adherents who would campaign in its favor. In fact, many actively seek to defeat the wasp, and [Tegwyn☠Twmffat] is one of them.

[Tegwyn]’s project is one that seeks to destroy wasps and Asian Hornets in habitats where they are an invasive pest. To achieve this goal without harming other species, the aim is to train a neural network to detect the creatures, before then using a laser to vaporize them.

Initial plans involved a gimballed sentry-gun style setup. However, safety concerns about firing lasers in the open, combined with the difficulty of imaging flying insects, conspired to put this idea to rest. The current system involves instead guiding insects down a small tube at the entrance to a hive. Here, they can be easily imaged at close range and great detail, as well as vaporized by a laser safely contained within the tube, if they are detected as wasps or hornets.

It’s an exciting project that could serve as a good model of how to deal with invasive insect species in the wild. We’ve seen insects grace our pages before, too.  Video after the break.

68 thoughts on “Artificial Intelligence Powers A Wasp-Killing Machine

  1. I suppose humans would fit that description as well… I could add a quote from Agent Smith about humans being the virus infesting Earth… but I don’t like wasps either.

    1. Outside building a nest in or in very close proximity to the house, I actually catch and release wasps that inadvertently get inside, as I don’t harbor any particular dislike of them. Mice, on the other hand, can’t be eradicated from the earth soon enough, and preferably with as little mercy as possible. Disgusting creatures that destroy anywhere they live. Now a mouse laser… sign me up!

        1. Ha! My current feline is defective. It’s never caught a single thing. Hadn’t considered a reptile, but I think I’d still prefer the deadly precision of a laser.

          1. “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound … cat
            Cryin’ all the time
            Well, you ain’t never caught a … mouse
            And you ain’t no friend of mine.”

  2. “Well, the wasp is an insect that is considered incapable of any viable economic contribution to society,“

    Wasps, like bees, are pollinators (https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/wasps.shtml for example). No pollinators, crops don’t fruit/seed. Big problem…

    Sure there are invasive species that are a pain and this is certainly a cool way to deal with pests, but to say there’s no viable economic contribution to society is a little shortsighted.

    1. Without wasps we wouldn’t have figs. So you need to attach a camera with some software that will identify the allowable species of wasps for destruction any others will be ejected from the trap with a puff of air… Simple enough, right? Weekend project… for the lost weekend.

    2. It is really amazing how ignorant people are. The same guy who can program a laser to kill can’t see the forest for the trees. The Call of Duty generation has grown up. Rather than help the homeless, or pick up litter, let’s rage on everything. Like wasps.

    3. even mosquitos have an economical use…at least in their larvae stage they are filtering the water and the male ones are pretty motivated pollinators. hornets are cool (because they eat wasps :) ), and wasps are an annoying but effective cleanup troup.

    1. Yes, since a lot of wasps are endangered and since the wasp breed that “bugs” you is only one of many and hard to indentify for the layman, all wasps are protected. Most wasp specimen are polinators, low on agression and serve vital predator roles in certain eco systems.

      But it is allways a good move to try to kill an invasive species. Most things in life are context sensitice, so “Go Project”!

    2. True story: we had a wasp starting a nest in our (German) toolshed. I was like, squash it. My wife (German) read me the law. I laughed for a good long while, and then we ended up catching it (her?) and the nest in a big jar and taking it out to the woods.

      Everyone came away happier and, even in the absence of any laws, that’s what I’d do again next time.

  3. If by “entrance to a hive” he means a bee hive, then *aham* removing these wasps are ok. Bees are already endangered enough by humans, so they need any help they can get.

    If he means the wasp hive, well, then just deal with the whole hive. No need to get them one by one.

  4. Neat ass project dude.

    One of the few benefits is that hornets/wasps help control the fly population. I grew up in a rural area where all neighbors had horses. Knocking down the wasp nests would result in an explosion of flies not long after. If you don’t have issues with other small flying insects, by all means.

  5. You’ve GOT TO BE KIDDING!

    Several fruits are pollenated exclusively by wasps. You really, honestly believe that wasps don’t have a purpose in nature? Are you OUT OF YOUR ***** MIND!

    Wasps are part of an eco system. They kill and eat other insects (whose population would explode if you took away wasps as their natural enemy IS the wasp). They pollenate plants, some of them EXCLUSIVELY. They are food for specific other animals (e.g. some dragon flies, several birds, hornets etc).

    The best I can do right now is CRY.

    1. Every living serves a purpose, but fortunately, there is a lot of redundancy, and adaptation. Not to mention, there are millions of the nasty buggers out there. It’s not going have any impact at all, in the grand scheme, we call an ecosystem. Nothing wrong with keeping the dangerous, hostile species away from our living spaces, plenty of wild for them to thrive in. Wasps and hornets are particularly nasty and dangerous. They don’t just sting you once, and done with it. They keep stinging until you brush them off or squash them. While they are stinging you, they also put out a scent, that calls all his brothers out, to join the party. Even if you don’t have an allergy, it’s more serious than getting poked a few times. Get stung enough, and anybody can have a fatal reaction. Those with an allergy, don’t usually find out, until they get stung, and rush to the hospital. They don’t always build their nests in plain view, nor do they give warning. I was cleaning up some landscape planters in front of my house last summer, got stung 4 times, two in the back of my hand, two on my thigh. Painful, so I soaked them with vinegar, helped some in a few minutes, but noticed my had swelling. Took two Benadryl (dog’s medication), which fortunately worked. Little worried about going to work the next day. And yeah, I sprayed the crap out of the nest, and removed it. They will return, if the nest isn’t damaged, or full of dead babies. I didn’t panic, and knew how to treat the stings. Unfortunately, most people don’t, which can lead to other problems as well. Being considerate of the ecosystem is fine, but you need to look at the options. Wasps and hornets are dangers to have in your yard, and around people. There is plenty of wild ground for them to live. It’s better to remove a serious threat in your living space.

    2. They do have their place, but not when they are introduced to an area (or country) they do not belong. New Zealand has a huge problem with wasps. Their numbers are increasing alarmingly, and they are turning to bees (honey bees, not sure about bumble bees) as fair game instead of their usual food sources and hitting the bee numbers really badly. It is becoming (has become?) a very serious problem.
      This project could serve as a model for “balancing up” the problem of invasive species – ie: the wasps – running amuck somewhere they shouldn’t.
      I suggest you get in contact with someone in the insect community in NZ.

    3. It looks like you missed a rather important part of the article “…seeks to destroy wasps and Asian Hornets in habitats where they are an invasive pest.”

      An invasive pest is indeed a part of AN ecosystem. Just not the one they are currently residing in. The current ecosystem was perfectly fine before that species got introduced there, and will continue to be fine without it.

      Of course, eventually the new ecosystem will find a new balance, one that includes the invasive species. However, finding that balance may cause (local) extinction of quite a few of the original species. Those original species also played a role in the ecosystem, and the invasive species often doesn’t fill the same role.

  6. If you already know where the hive is it;s easy to eliminate.

    1 Watt? That not vaporization, that is slowly warming it up. I kind of doubt 1 watt is enough to do anything. There were some designs for a system like this that could find and zap mosquito out of the air using a pulsed yag laser.

    You need galvos for something like this, you might be able to get away with the cheap chinese laser light show ones but you will probably need good closed loop galvos.

    1. I lit my workshop on fire by zapping a wasp with a 2 watt blue laser and catching it on fire way up where I couldn’t reach it (hence the laser) but where I also couldn’t reach the spider webs that subsequently flared up as it burned. That was an exciting couple of minutes. A watt is plenty to kill a wasp if it’s focussed.

      1. In one test 300mW of 532nm was enough to light a cigarette, unfocused. But it took about a minute and somebody had to “pull” (suck air through it). It was quite scary seeing this guy with the bright laser spot only inches away from his eyes in otherwise complete darkness. luckily he did not hurt his eyes.

    1. If you want something protected, find a place to do it outside my room. No law that doesn’t have exemptions for removing insects by _any_ means necessary from the close proximity of a dwelling will ever be actually respected, full stop. People will just try to avoid getting caught doing it. Which is why anyone legislating this sort of thing is demonstrably a moron unfit for purpose.

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