Scientists at the North Carolina State University have developed a technique that can help exploit the resilient nature of cockroaches by turning them into Cyborgs that will assist humans with rescue and relief efforts by fitting in tiny spaces at disaster hit zones where robots can’t reach and pick up sound (including human voices) using tiny microphones.

The cockroach cyborg also known as biobot can be controlled using a circuit board connected to their brain (the cockroach). The circuit board on the back of the cockroach, called an electronic backpack contains a microphone that can source high-resolution sound and steer towards them. Tasks for rescue and relief efforts will be divided into two different kinds of biobots.

Cyborg Cockroaches

One will act as a sensor detecting the source of sound and transmit them wirelessly to responders, and the other (responders) will travel towards the source of sound.

“In a collapsed building, sound is the best way to find survivors,” said Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University and senior author of two papers on the work. A group of biobots will be sent into the rubble, exploiting their minuscule frame, they will easily make their way to humans trapped underneath and transmit signals to rescue team giving them the exact location.

What is the biobots wander off in some other direction and don’t do their jobs? That has already been taken care of. The biotbots will be contained within a specific area, much like an invisible fence. This is to make sure that both the types of biotbots don’t move out of each other’s range, and second to turn them into a source of light, where they the backpacks will be charged using solar power.

This is to allow cyborgs to work for days in a go. Looks like the researchers haven’t addressed the issue of victims screaming at the sight of them!

The idea of biobots isn’t exactly new. In 2013, PETA complained when one company sold the RoboRoach kit as a learning toy for $100, saying, “There is no way a child is going to learn anything about neurological diseases or be interested in studying it in the future based on mutilating a cockroach.”

According to Bozkurt, the goal behind using these biotbots with such high-resolution microphones is to differentiate between various sounds that matter (people calling for help) and those that don’t matter (leaking pipes). Once the rescue team has identified those sounds, the biotbots can be used to know where those sounds are comings from.