Cockroaches? This is how they can be killed with AI-directed laser beams

Scottish researchers have discovered the coolest way to “neutralize” cockroaches: shoot them with a laser.

A team of engineers, biologists and machine learning experts recently collaborated with Ildar Rakhmatulin, a research associate at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, to develop a smart laser that can kill cockroaches. Rakhmatulin had previously developed systems using the famous open source Raspberry Pi controller combined with lasers to kill mosquitoes, but wanted to take it a step further after realizing the potential impact cockroach infestations could have on the food and healthcare industries.

The foundation of the system is a single Jetson Nano board, a compact computer with deep learning capabilities. Rakhmatulin and his team trained the Nano to recognize cockroaches from 1,000 images of them in different lighting conditions, identify their target and track the insect’s path. The Nano determines the distance to its target in three-dimensional space after the two cameras it is equipped with have located a cockroach. It then transmits this data used to point the laser, changing its direction using mirrors. It remains only to shoot.

The laser’s impact varies according to its power level. A lower power appears to trigger the insects’ flight response, which the team believes can scare cockroaches into avoiding a specific location in the future. Higher power levels were able to “neutralize” (rather than kill) the cockroaches.

The team is already testing on a wider range of pests, such as wasps that threaten bees. Rakhmatulin and his team’s technology can offer an effective replacement for other traditional methods against cockroaches, as mechanical traps catch or kill only a small number of cockroaches at a time.

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As if that were not enough, many pesticides contain chemicals that remain in the environment permanently, leak into the environment and pose a significant risk to human health despite being effective on a large scale. Some are even dangerous if used around children or animals.

Still, it will be some time before the hotel industry or public health organizations have access to the cockroach laser developed by the researchers. Despite the technology’s low cost (Rakhmatulin says that each of the device’s five components costs less than $250), it has not yet been possible to target a specific area of ​​the insect’s body, which would increase its effectiveness. If proper precautions are not taken, a laser of this power can also be harmful to the human eye.


Selective neutralization and deterrence of cockroaches with machine vision automated laser

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