Speed Reads

Robots

You might actually be happy to see this cyborg cockroach

Cockroaches are disgusting creatures, and the idea of encountering a cybernetic roach is mildly terrifying. But the cyborg roach developed by North Carolina State University might save your life if you are trapped in a collapsed building. These remote-controlled "biobots" are outfitted with sensitive microphones — either one facing forward or three facing different directions — with the goal of finding people trapped in tight spaces.

The idea behind outfitting the cockroaches with high-resolution microphones is "to differentiate between sounds that matter — like people calling for help — from sounds that don't matter, like a leaking pipe," says lead researcher Alper Bozkurt. How do you control these indestructible critters? With a tiny computerized backpack wired into the roach's nervous system. You can watch the cyborg roach in action below. Up next from Bozkurt: Cyborg moths. --Peter Weber