Scientists Create AI-Powered Laser Turret That Kills Cockroaches – Slashdot


An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Everyone wants to be able to just zap a bug and have it go away. But now, thanks to a recent development from Ildar Rakhmatulin, a research associate at Heriot-Watt University interested in machine learning and engineering, this dream is now a reality. In the study — which was conducted last year but published in Oriental Insects last week — Rakhmatulin and his co-authors used a laser insect control device automated with machine vision to perform a series of experiments on domiciliary cockroaches. They were able to not only detect cockroaches at high accuracy but also neutralize and deter individual insects at a distance up to 1.2 meters. This is a follow-up of sorts to earlier projects, in which he used a Raspberry Pi and lasers to zap mosquitoes. However, for this project, Rakhmatulin used a different kind of computer which allowed for more precision in detecting the bug.

“I started using a Jetson Nano that allowed me to use deep learning technologies with higher accuracy to detect an object,” Rakhmatulin explained. The Jetson Nano is a small computer that can run machine learning algorithms. The computer processes a digital signal from two cameras to determine the cockroach’s position. It transmits that information to a galvanometer (a machine that measures electric current), which changes the direction of the laser to shoot the target. According to the paper, Rakhmatulin tried this configuration at different power levels for the laser. At a lower power level, he found that he could influence the behavior of roaches by simply triggering their flight response with a laser; this way, they could potentially be trained to not shelter in a particular dark area. At a higher power level, the cockroaches were effectively “neutralized,” in the paper’s language — in other words, killed. “I use very cheap hardware and cheap technology and it’s open source,” Rakhmatulin said. “All sources are uploaded in my GitHub and see how to do it and use it. If it can damage cockroaches, it can also damage other pests in agriculture.”

It’s not quite ready for household use though. “It’s not recommended because it’s a little dangerous,” Rakhmatulin said. “Lasers can damage not only cockroaches but your eyes.”

You can view a video of the device in action here.



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