FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Thursday, June 09, 2005

If Roaches Were Drivers...

What is the purpose of building a vehicle that only a giant cockroach can drive? That's a question that Fulbright scholar Garnet Hertz seems prepared to answer.

Hertz has built a car of sorts that can be controlled by a Madagascar cockroach. The "driver" strides a trackball atop the "roach coach" and steers it and moves it along simply by walking.

Hertz developed the vehicle as part of his fine-arts thesis. However, he hopes that it could shed some light on how future robots and cyborgs can use insect-like actions for movement and navigation (a concept that's become popular among robotics researchers as of late). As his unpublished essay on the subject says, Hertz hopes the roach coach will foster "discussion about the biological versus computational, fears about technology and nature, a future filled with biohybrid robots, and a recollection of the narrative of the cyborg."

Source: New York Times