[NetBehaviour] When Cockroaches Sieze Controls

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Jul 4 16:18:05 CEST 2005

*When Cockroaches Sieze Controls*

By Rachel Metz
02:00 AM Jul. 01, 2005

While most people are concerned with exterminating any roaches 
inhabiting their homes, artist Garnet Hertz ensures they can zip around 
in style.

Taking a cue from technology that looks to biological systems for 
inspiration, Hertz has constructed a three-wheeled robotic vehicle that 
lets a Madagascan hissing cockroach navigate a room while perched atop a 
ping-pong ball.

The ball works like a computer mouse's track ball. Where the roach moves 
on the ball, the vehicle moves in the room.

Sensors on the bot can tell when it's going to hit something. It also 
has a semi-circle of LED lights facing the roach, so when it's about to 
hit an obstacle an LED will shine on the creature from the direction of 
the barrier, hopefully causing it to run in the other direction.

Unfortunately for Hertz, this isn't always the case. The light deterrent 
works well sometimes, other times it doesn't. Sometimes the roach will 
sit still for five minutes without moving, start running in circles, 
then stop again. Or it might navigate around obstacles and then suddenly 
bang into a wall.

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