In a prime example of trickle-down cyborg robotics, the remote-controlled rhinoceros beetle created (modified, really) by DARPA may soon be available in a DIY kit, using cockroaches instead of giant beetles. It could help you realize your dream of turning your cockroach friends into remote-controlled errand-roaches.
The kit is made from parts from a HEXBug robot, a little spidery toy 'bot, plus a few low-power chips that deliver electrical stimulation to a cockroach's antennae nerves. Though the end product basically looks like a cockroach wearing a backpack made of the inside of an alarm clock, it really does work, granting bi-directional control. Apparently the only issues left to solve are the logistical problem of getting the gear to stay on the cockroach, and the reliability rate. BackyardBrains, the creators of the project, says only about 25% of cockroaches can effectively be controlled through this method, but they remain optimistic that that number can be improved.
Check out a video of the cyborg-roach in action--it might not be as polished as a flying beetle or some of the other scientist-modded animals we've covered, but for a DIY project, it's pretty disturbing/impressive.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.