Why would you create a cockroach from scratch when there are so many of them readily available? Turns out that a team of researchers did just that.
The purpose of this artificial cockroach was to help in the study of collective intelligence. This type of intelligence is displayed by a variety of insects including cockroaches, termites, bees and ants.
The pied piper
Using an artificial pheromone, the researchers were able to trick a group of roaches into believing that the micro-robot was one of them. They were even able to lead the group around, taking them from a dark to a lighted area. If you’ve dealt with cockroaches, your first thought may be that you could use this tiny bot for pest control, and lead the roaches into a glue trap. However, this was not really the purpose of the experiment. Classical methods are still best for speedy and efficient cockroach extermination. The current research aims to create autonomous robot swarms that can be used in a variety of applications.
Researchers are also trying out this experiment with a variety of other species. Eventually, the goal is to develop methods where you can influence the behaviors of large groups of animals using robots, such as herding sheep with robotic sheepdogs. Similar research was conducted with chickens. Chickens exhibit a pattern of destructive actions known as “panic behavior.” Researchers hope that they can ameliorate the effect of this pattern with robots.
The benefits of understanding swarms
It’s an interesting fact that trying to influence the behavior of cockroaches using robots is not a new idea. Neither is this type of experimentation. Swarm robotics can have a tremendous impact on a large variety of fields, from medicine and construction to military applications. Now, with the advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence, gathering as much data about the behavior of swarm insects as possible will lead to leaps in the development of robotic swarms.
Extermination however will remain a human endeavor for the foreseeable future. Building robots to exterminate roaches is still too expensive, especially when compared to tried and tested methods such as vacuuming and baiting. These methods are straightforward, cost-effective and fast. But automation can still come to the industry of pest control, especially in large buildings, thanks to this study. The more roach behavior is understood, the easier it is to set up pest control systems that hit these insects at bottlenecks or where they are the weakest. Of course, 350 million years of evolution is nothing to scoff at.
Do you have a cockroach infestation in your home?
If you have a cockroach infestation in your home, it’s best to handle it as soon as possible. Cockroaches multiply very fast, and without the help of a professional you are unlikely to eliminate an entire hive. This is why we offer pest control services for homes that are infested with cockroaches. Contact us today for more information about our services or to schedule an appointment.