DIY Arduino Hack Lets You Command A Creepy Living Cyborg Cockroach

Like many people, cockroaches creep me out and I would show no mercy if one crawled in my general direction. Needless to say, the only good cockroach is one that is squashed on the bottom of my shoe. Of course, there are those that take a different approach to roaches, and study them for research. Or in the case of Instructables user bravoechonovember1, turn them into mind-controlled cyborgs that respond to your commands.

Like most insects, cockroaches use antennae to interact with their environment and navigate around obstacles. bravoechonovember1 decided to use an Arduino to match the neural signals that cockroaches use to modify their behavior, allowing it to “think” that it is actually facing a wall, which in turns causes it change directions.

arduino cockroach

Commanding your own cyborg cockroach is a relatively simple affair; that is if you aren’t squeamish and don’t have an immediate gag reflex when you think of handling a live Madagascar hissing cockroach (bravoechonovember1’s preferred test subject). The first step is to build a backpack for the cockroach, which is constructed out of sheet aluminum. This will serve as a carrier for the Arduino and battery pack. You’ll then need to anesthetize the cockroach, which can be done by placing it in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes.

And this is where the hairs on the back of your neck will likely stand on end — you’ll need to shave down the thorax of the cockroach and glue on the backpack using non-toxic glue. Then, you’ll have to trim a section of each of the cockroach’s antennae and insert control wires inside the hollow structures and secure it with super glue.

While we’ve simplified the steps above for brevity’s sake, you get the idea. The next step is to write six lines of code, which will be used to send commands to your new cyborg cockroach. Take a look at the videos below to see the “arduinroach” in action:

It should be noted that the cockroach will eventually begin to ignore your commands as it become desensitized to the the artificial probing mucking with its nervous system.

Now if you’re thinking, “I’ve seen something like this before in a movie,” you’re not alone. bravoechonovember1’s project immediately made my mind race to one of my favorite sci-fi movies from the 1990s, The Fifth Element: