Some things that you find are just too cool. While reading the latest issue of “Make Magazine” (from O’Reilly Press), I saw an article about a cockroach powered robot. The cockroach has no brain, but is basically controlled a bunch of nerve cells throughout its body. (They can live and function without their heads until they starve to death some days later.) The cockroach acts as the CPU in a robot. It is velcroed onto a ping pong ball which is acts like a trackball or mouse. Instead of horizontal and vertical axes, however, it uses left and right axes. As the cockroach moves, the robot moves. When it gets near something (such as a wall), a light diode will turn on which will cause the cockroach to go in a different direction and allow it to avoid running into things.

The project is called “Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine” and further details and plenty of pictures can be found on their website.