Ildar Rakhmatulin, a research associate at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, recently collaborated with a group of engineers, biologists and machine learning specialists to create an AI-powered laser device that can neutralize cockroaches.
It may sound like a science fiction scene, but when you consider the effect cockroach infestations have on the restaurant industry (and health in general), the issue of how to get rid of them is very current.
How the cockroach laser works
At the base of the system is a tiny computer, the Jetson Nano, capable of running deep learning algorithms. Using a “mini set” of 1.000 images of cockroaches in different angles and lights (they ultimately look alike), Rakhmatulin and his team trained the Dwarf to recognize its target and track the insect's movement. I study was posted here.
When the two cameras connected to the device detect a cockroach, the Nano calculates the spatial distance of its target. It then sends this information to a galvanometer, which uses mirrors to adjust the laser's direction: and fires. PHEW! Like Star Wars.
From bollard to total war
The response of cockroaches to the laser depends on the power used. If you just want to dissuade them, a lower level chases them away and teaches them not to go back to that area. With a higher level, however, the cockroach is annihilated like the Death Star in the famous saga of George Lucas. The system is also being tested on other types of insects (at the moment they are testing it on hornets).
The technology of Rakhmatulin and colleagues is a candidate to be an alternative to chemical solutions based on pesticides, which released into the environment present several risks for children, pets, everyone.
It will take a while to see the cockroach laser around between industrial kitchens and hospitals, though. Despite the cost of the components, less than 200 euros in all, two factors are still needed: first, to make the system even more infallible by teaching the artificial intelligence which parts of the body of these insects are most vulnerable. Second, find a way to prevent someone from getting in the line of sight of the laser, which has the ability to blind a person.
Details. The space war on cockroaches has just begun. PHEW!