Cyborg insects could map collapsed buildings for first responders

Gigaom

When first responders arrive at an emergency situation such as a collapsed building, they enter blind, uncertain of what they will encounter or how to reach their targets.

North Carolina State University researchers think cyborgs are the answer. A paper they will present next month proposes using live insects like cockroaches to map the insides of difficult-to-reach locations. The insects would each be connected to a tiny electronics pack that allows people to control their movements, organizing them into a swarm that can map the location of walls more precisely than if the insects spread out randomly.

Cyborg cockroach

“We focused on how to map areas where you have little or no precise information on where each biobot is, such as a collapsed building where you can’t use GPS technology,” senior paper author Edgar Lobaton said in a release. “One characteristic of biobots is that their movement can be somewhat random. We’re…

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