Roaches Follow Robot Overlords to Certain Doom, Studies Show

Illustration for article titled Roaches Follow Robot Overlords to Certain Doom, Studies Show

According to actual scientific research, a robotic Pied Piper can lead a flock (gaggle?) of roaches out of a secure location and into the open, where they could technically be exterminated more easily. José Halloy, a biology researcher at the Free University of Brussels, was lead author on a paper published today in Science, wherein he details his robotic roach exploits.


Halloy and his team corralled roaches in an area covered by two discs, a dark one and a lighter one. Communists by nature, roaches tend to cluster together, motivated by group instinct. Since they all dig the dark, they did as expected and congregated on that side of the arena. But when robotic roaches were sent in to mingle, and then started easing their way over to the light side, the real roaches followed about 60% of the time, overriding their own survival instincts to hang with the cool kids.

You may notice that the robot in the picture looks nothing like a roach. Says the NYT:

[Roaches]have weak eyes, which allowed the researchers to create a robotic roach that resembles a miniature golf cart more than an insect. In the roach world, however, looking right is not as important as smelling right, and the scientists doused the machines with eau de cockroach sex hormones.


Awww yeah. So next time you have a roach problem, find a small robot and slap some succulent roach cologne on that sucker, and see what kinda sparks fly. [NYT]

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Scantron Crothers

If I were building this robot, I would put lipstick on it and make it say "yooo-hooo" in an unconvincing falsetto every now and then.