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Calmbots: Cyborg Cockroach Project

Nov 05, 2020
By combining computational resources with non-computational resources, researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan leverage the best of both worlds and turn cockroaches into an army of insect cyborgs. Cockroaches are a great place to start because of their impressive durability and small size. We propose “Calmbots” that is a novel user interface utilizing insects’ capabilities such as mobility, self-maintenance, and hiding. In Calmbots, we utilize Madagascar cockroach and control multiple cockroaches by electrical stimulation to use them as display (by making them as pixels) and object transportation, or make them attach pens for drawing lines. Further, Calmbots can be used as input or haptic interfaces or audio device. We make the following novelties. First, we controlled Madagascar cockroaches with high mobility of moving across walls, carpets, and the floor with cables, where robots are difficult to achieve. Second, we devised optional parts attached on cockroaches, making them capable of drawing lines and transporting objects. Third, we controlled multiple cockroaches effectively by developing the control based on the principle of worker ants, which exists in a swarm of ants. When there appears out-of-control cockroaches, we utilized the substitute cockroaches to continue the ongoing task. Yuga Tsukuda, Daichi Tagami, Masaaki Sadasue, Shieru Suzuki, Jun-Li Lu, Yoichi Ochiai