Now you can kill cockroaches gracefully thanks to a recent development by Heriot-Watt University researcher Ildar Rakhmatulin, reports Vice.
A study conducted last year was published just a week ago. A scientist used an automated laser insect control device with artificial vision to conduct a series of experiments on house cockroaches. He was able not only to detect cockroaches with high accuracy, but also to neutralize them, as well as scare away individual insects at a distance of up to 1.2 meters.
It was sort of a continuation of previous projects that used Raspberry Pi and lasers to kill mosquitoes. However, for this project, Rakhmatulin used another type of computer, which made it possible to detect insects more accurately.
“I started using a Jetson Nano which allowed me to use deep learning technologies with greater accuracy to detect an object,” Rakhmatulin explained.
Jetson Nano is a small computer capable of running machine learning algorithms. The computer processes the digital signal from the two cameras to determine the cockroach’s location. It transmits this information to a galvanometer (a device for measuring electrical current), which changes the direction of the laser to hit the target.
Rakhmatulin tried this setup at different levels of laser power: at low levels, he was able to influence the behavior of cockroaches by causing them to react with the laser. Thus, they can potentially be taught not to hide in a certain dark area. At the highest power level, the cockroaches were killed.
The developer has also made all data and instructions freely available, noting that others can give it a try if they take the proper precautions.
“I’m using very cheap hardware and cheap technology and it’s open source,” Rakhmatulin said. “All sources are uploaded to my GitHub and see how to make and use it.”
The developer noted that the project has already begun to be tested on other pests, such as hornets.
“While it can harm cockroaches, it can also harm other pests in agriculture,” he says.
Besides the open nature of the project, the possibility of a wide application of this technology deserves attention: it can become an alternative to mechanical and chemical traps that harm the environment and target harmless insect species. And all this despite the fact that all components cost no more than $ 250, which is quite affordable, and the model itself is more compact than other modern pest control technologies.
That said, while the prototype is suitable for academic research, there is still a long way to go before it can be rolled out on a larger scale. A smaller laser dot would be more effective in killing cockroaches, but it is difficult to implement experimentally. It would also be useful to be able to control exactly which parts of the cockroaches’ bodies will be affected.