- Cockroach is fitted with an electronic ‘backpack’ to stimulate its antennae
- Backpack’s controlled by an electroencephalography (EEG) headset
- Brainwaves read by it used to direct the cockroach in a certain direction
- Innovation could be used for reconnaissance missions, inventors say
Mind control is a staple of sci-fi films such as X-Men, but a Chinese student has now made the technology a reality.
Using just his thoughts, he is shown in a video controlling the movement of the cyborg insect, fitted with electrodes and a chip, by wearing an electroencephalography (EEG) headset.
After guiding the robo-roach around an S-shaped bend, he uses his brain patterns to negotiate a zig-zag path accurately.
The scientist was able to control the movement of the cyborg insect, fitted with electrodes and a chip (pictured) by wearing an electroencephalography (EEG) headset that can read specific brain patterns
But despite his amazing mind-control feat, Li Guangye, a postgraduate student at China’s Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU) only won second place in the 2015 IEEE RAS students’ video contest.
His innovation was pipped to the post by Osman Doğan Yirmibeşoğlu from Özyeğin University in Istanbul, Turkey, whose video, entitled ‘Robots are on our side’ shows them writing in lights and playing rock, paper, scissors among other actions.
Third place went to a researcher behind a robot than can make pizzas by copying a human.
It is not the first time that cockroaches wearing electronic ‘backpacks’ have been controlled by humans, but it is the first time they have been controlled directly by the human mind.
Mr Guangye implanted live microelectrodes to stimulate nerves in the insect’s antennae.
These electrodes are linked to a remote control or central computer via a wireless network.
Student creates cyborg cockroach he controls with THOUGHTS
The student shows how the robo-roach can be guided around an S-shaped bend before negotiating a zig-zag path accurately
The system has numerous parts so that the wearer’s brainwaves are sent to a central computer which then decodes them and sends them to the cockroach’s backpack in order to control its actions (shown above)
It is not the first time cockroaches wearing electronic ‘backpacks’ have been controlled by humans, but it is the first time they’ve been controlled directly by a human mind. Here, the insect is guided on an S-shaped path
Brainwaves, read by the EEG headset, are transmitted to the controller.
The headset decodes the directional intention of the wearer from eye movements, for example, and sends this to the electronic ‘backpack’ receiver on the back of the roach, so that it can be steered in the right direction.
The ‘backpacks’ control the robo-roach’s movements because they are wired to the insect’s cerci – sensory organs cockroaches usually use to feel if their abdomens are brushing against something.
Brainwaves, read by an EEG headset, are transmitted to the central controller where they are decoded and the instructions are sent to the cockroach’s backpack, to guide it round a route (pictured)
Mind control is a staple of sci-fi films such as X-Men, but now it’s also a reality in animals. An image of Professor X played by Patrick Stewart from the film X-Men is shown
THE APP THAT LETS YOU CONTROL A COCKROACH AT HOME
Backyard Brains created an electric backpack that fits onto a cockroach and makes the insect turn on command using electric impulses.
The firm began selling DIY kits for $99 (£66) in 2013, meaning anyone can use the tech.
The Roboroach stimulates the creature’s antenna and forces it to turn left and right at the touch of a button, while the backpack links with an app used as the remote control.
Its movements are controlled by electrodes that connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth.
To attach the backpack, users dip the bug into ice water to ‘anaesthetise’ it.
A patch of shell on its head is sanded and electrodes are stuck to it using superglue.
The groundwire is then inserted into the insect’s thorax and the antennae is trimmed so silver electrodes can be placed into them.
Its makers claim it would make a great classroom aide to teach children about how the brain works.
Although they also insist the cockroaches are treated humanely, they risk a backlash from animal rights activists who say it is cruel.
By electrically stimulating the cerci, cockroaches can be prompted to move in a certain direction.
The new development has been hailed as a sensation in allowing human beings to beam their thoughts to animals in order to control them, but animal rights charities are likely to be unimpressed with the breakthrough.
The researchers claim the project has extended existing brain-computer interface technology and attempts brain-to-brain communication.
In the future, the cockroaches could be used for reconnaissance missions and the next step is to control an ‘army’ of cockroaches at once.
Electrical engineers at North Carolina State University also believe cyborg cockroaches could be used to survey areas and sent to disaster zones to seek out humans trapped under rubble.
They too have used backpacks to control cockroaches – using a remote control rather than the mind – but their backpacks are also equipped with an array of three directional microphones to detect the direction of the sound and steer the biobot in the right direction towards it.
Another type is fitted with a single microphone to capture sound from any direction, which can be wirelessly transmitted – perhaps in the future to emergency workers.
They ‘worked well’ in lab tests and the experts have developed technology that can be used as an ‘invisible fence’ to keep the biobots in a certain area such as a disaster area.
‘Robots are on our side’ won the 2015 IEEE RAS students’ contest
The cockroach innovation was pipped to the post by Osman Doğan Yirmibeşoğlu of Özyeğin University in Istanbul, Turkey, whose video (above) entitled ‘Robots are on our side’ shows them writing in lights and playing rock, paper, scissors among other actions
Mr Guangye implanted live microelectrodes to stimulate nerves in the insect’s antennae. These electrodes (pictured) are linked to a remote control or central computer via a wireless network