Cyborg-Roach: An Idea Whose Time Has Come---and Scuttled Under the Fridge

By Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 6:53 AM

Just what you need in life: Your very own cybernetic cockroach. Now, thanks to the folks at an outfit called "Backyard Brains" ("Neuroscience for Everyone!"), you can have one.

No, I am not making this up. It's the Roboroach, which can be yours for only $99.99:

Have you ever wanted to walk down the hall of your school or department with your own remote controlled cockroach? We are now excited to announce the world's first commercially available cyborg! With our RoboRoach you can briefly wirelessly control the left/right movement of a cockroach by microstimulation of the antenna nerves. The RoboRoach is a great way to learn about neurotechnology, learning, and electronics!

. . .

The RoboRoach "backpack" weighs 5.5 grams with the battery, and each battery lasts ~1/2 hour. Following a brief surgery you perform on the cockroach to attach the silver electrodes to the antenna, you can attach the backpack to the roach and control its movement for a few minutes before the cockroach adapts. When you return the cockroach to it's cage for ~20 minutes, he "forgets" and the stimulation works again. Once you receive your RoboRoach in the mail, follow our online surgery instructions and videos and you will soon be on your way to becoming an expert in neural interfaces. After about 2-7 days, the stimulation stops working altogether, so you can clip the wires and retire the cockroach to your breeder colony to spend the rest of its days making more cockroaches for you and eating your lettuce.

Here's a video:


The folks at Backyard Brains also have this amazing Ted Talk video about cybernetics and roaches. All jokes aside, it's well worth six minutes to watch.