Roaches at the Wheel; January 1998; Scientific American Magazine; by Yam; 1 Page(s)
Researchers in Tokyo received some notoriety last year when they showed how implants could govern the movements of a cockroach--the idea being that such roboroaches could be used for covert surveillance or for searches through wreckage. Now one engineer has worked the flip side of that relationship: a robotic vehicle controlled by a cockroach.
Hajime Or built what he calls a "biomechatronic robot" while working on his master¿s degree at the University of Tokyo last year. After taping down an American cockroach (bottom left), he inserted fine silver wires into the extensor muscles of the hind legs. The roach was then allowed to run on what amounts to a trackball (bottom right). The wires picked up the weak electrical signals generated by the muscles, and the signals were amplified and fed to the motorized wheels. In this way, the machine would mimic the speed and direction the cockroach ran.