Introducing the "RoboRoach"

We are pleased to announce the beta version of our RoboRoach control circuit is now available, which allows you to trick a cockroach into turning left or right by microstimulation of the antenna nerves. Version 4, above, was just released June 9th, 2012, and is our smallest circuit yet at 5.5 g. You can use this experimental model to teach your students about current neurotechnology. For example, 1) How long before the cockroach adapts to the stimulation and learns to ignore it?, and 2) What is the optimal circuit design to make the electronics as simple and light as possible? See the video below for the demonstration of the RoboRoach. Full instructions are available on our wiki. Each RoboRoach Kit comes with:

  • One Assembled RoboRoach Circuit
  • One Remote Control
  • Three Batteries
  • Three Electrode Sets (to implant three roaches)
  • One breakout cable to test neural responses from antenna

We are also proud to say this project began as a senior engineering design project we managed and sponsored at the University of Michigan in winter 2010. The students converged on the circuit design and demonstrated proof-of-principle, and we have spent the last two years iteratively reducing the weight and improving it (now at 4th gen). You can read about the RoboRoach in the summer 2012 issue of MAKE Magazine, and listen below to a radio interview with NewsTalk Ireland describing the prep.

For all you circuit heads and advanced scientists/engineers out there, here is the circuit diagram for the stimulator circuit. We used the +3 V output of the remote control HEXBug circuit (green circuit board) to drive our pulse generators (red circuit boards). Below image shows the output of the circuit when plugged into an oscilloscope (not cockroach). Some suppliers of large discoid cockroaches are Aaron Pauling (Arizona), Ken the Bug Guy (Bay Area, CA), and Nyworms (New York). Finally, follow the surgical instructions in the video below to begin your own neural engineering inquiry. What can you discover today? Challenge Us!