Cockroach-controlled mobile robot system in LA on Friday

RoachbotOn November 19th, 2004 8-10pm at Machine Project in Los Angeles, "Garnet Hertz will be showing his most recent prototype: a cockroach-controlled mobile robot system. The system uses a living Madagascan hissing cockroach atop a modified trackball to control a three-wheeled robot. Infrared sensors also provide navigation feedback to create a semi-intelligent system, with the cockroach as the CPU. This work will be framed within the contexts of intelligence, embodiment, artificial life, the history robotics, and Michael Jackson." Link (Thanks, Dan!)

UPDATE: Jenifer Tidwell sez: This is a scene right out of a 1993 SIGGRAPH animation piece called "Grinning Evil Death," about a giant robotic cockroach going down in defeat to a kid empowered by a cereal-box prize. In the climactic scene, the intrepid kid pulls the lid off the robot to find it powered by… a cockroach. Link 1, Link 2

UPDATE: Bill sez: "A friend of mine wrote to Garnet concerning the treatment of the cockroaches he uses in his robot. I was impressed with how well he treats the little guys and thought you might like to know. Here is his reply:"

I appreciate your comments, although I take some comfort in knowing that the cockroaches I use aren't in pain or even annoyed: they're a Madagascan Hissing species that hiss loudly when irritated.

The insects are only in the device for a few minutes at a time, and lead very normal lives otherwise.  I feed them organic lettuce and top-grade Purina dog food.

You should compare this to the way that insects are cut apart and routinely chopped to bits by standard scientific research (let alone the Orkin man).

All the best – and I actually appreciate your feedback.