02-2013 HKU school for arts, Utrecht.

In my experiments with robotics I’ve been searching for ways to make the behaviour less predictable and more organic. As always Im trying to achieve this with the least amount of parts possible. I tried several ways of generating random signals but nothing came close to what I wanted, so I looked towards nature to find a solution. I was shocked to find that you can order live feeding insects online in various terrarium webshops. It actually turns out that it’s cheaper to buy a cockroach to generate random signals than it is to buy a dedicated random generator, fascinating!

I started with using light sensors to sense the cockroach position but that required very strict ambient light conditions. In the end I sedated the cockroaches in ice water and used a tiny drop of superglue to glue a small neodynium magnet on their stomach. And yes, that was a very strange experience, glueing magnets to the underside of a coackroach is not something Im planning on doing as a hobby.

On the robot itself I used 2 magnetic reed switches to switch the flow of current to the different sides. The rest of the robot functions as a standard light following 2 wheel drive platform. I edited the video to show some highlights of the robot actually moving, in the real installation it was so random that sometimes it would take more than 5 minutes before the sensors were triggered. Definately some room for improvement there.

No cockroaches were harmed during the making of this video. They were ordered online as live pet feed and only kept in the robot for a limited amount of time.

Cockroach robotics

Cockroach robotics

Cockroach robotics

Cockroach robotics

Cockroach robotics