Science can be a strange and wondrous world of extraordinary innovation and unbelievable discovery. Now, one of our favorite scientific innovations has made its return: the cyborg cockroach.
As you may remember, ECS Board Member and Senior VP Dan Scherson once co-authored a paper that detailed how a cyborg cockroach can generate and transmit signals wirelessly. (You can check paper out here – it’s open access!)
Now cyborg cockroaches are making their way back into science with a new study that uses the roaches to pick up sounds with small microphones and seek out the source of that sound.
The purpose of this development is to help emergency personnel find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of an accident.
Researches outfitted the roaches with one of two electronic backpacks. The first backpack has a single microphone that can capture relatively high-resolution sound from any direction and transmit it wirelessly to first responders. The second backpack is equipped with an array of three directional microphones and paired with newly developed algorithms that analyze the sound to localize the source and steer the cyborg roach in that direction.
“The goal is to use the biobots with high-resolution microphones to differentiate between sounds that matter – like people calling for help – from sounds that don’t matter – like leaking pipes,” said Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and senior author of two papers on the work.