Kickstarter campaign launched for remote-controlled cockroaches

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If you like remote-controlled cars and insects, you may want to invest in RoboRoach.

A startup company called Backyard Brains, which sells neuroscience experiment kits to students, has taken to Kickstarter, seeking $10,000 in funding to mass manufacture devices that would let users control the movements of live cockroaches.

“This is the world’s first commercially available cyborg,” the project developers say.

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The device, which resembles a small logic board with a computer chip, is placed on the cockroach like a backpack. Using a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, a user can direct the insect whichever way he or she would like it to go.


The device works by sending electrical pulses to the cockroach’s neurons on its antennae, which the insect uses to sense its surroundings. The project developers say the cockroaches would need to undergo a “short surgery (under anesthesia),” conducted by users, to place wires in their antennae for the device to work.

“When you send the command from your mobile phone, the backpack sends pulses to the antenna, which causes the neurons to fire, which causes the roach to think there is a wall on one side,” the project proposal reads. “The result? The roach turns!”

The makers of the project say the point behind RoboRoach is to teach people more about neuroscience and show how the brain works.

RoboRoach began its run on Kickstarter earlier this week, and the project has already raised more than $5,000 with 26 days left to go.

Users can pledge $100 to receive a RoboRoach kit if the project is funded. That comes with the necessary parts and technology to create the cyborg cockroaches, but the insects themselves are not included. U.S. users can choose to pledge $150 to receive a RoboRoach kit as well as 12 “well behaved and well trained” cockroaches.

It’s the not the first time that someone has thought of using a remote-controlled cockroach. In the Bruce Willis science fiction moview “The Fifth Element,” a remote-controlled cockroach with a spy camera is unceremoniously squashed with a shoe.


Video of RoboRoach in action can be seen below and on Kickstarter.


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