The robotic cockroach begs an obvious question: did the world really need a robotic cockroach?
According to a scientist at the University of California Biomimetic Millisystems Lab — who clearly must be stopped for the sake of all that’s good and holy — yes, the world needs a tiny robot that scuttles about with the repulsive speed and creepiness of a real cockroach.
It was unveiled this week at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting in San Francisco, where it presumably zipped straight behind the nearest fridge.
The VELOCIRoACH is made of plastic and cardboard and evil. It has six legs and can run at nine feet — or 27 times its own body length — per second, ranking it among the fastest robots in the world.
Thanks to its springy legs, the appalling android is actually faster than real cockroaches. Anyone who has ever turned on the kitchen light and glimpsed one darting under cover knows just how fast the little monsters can maneuver.
Here’s the VELOCIRoACH in action. We recommend you don’t watch it if you’re prone to heebie-jeebies.
According to creator Duncan Haldane, the next step in the development of robot cockroaches is making them immune to the ultimate threat facing real cockroaches: the human foot. Although the VELOCIRoACH can currently withstand four times its own weight, Haldane wants to engineer one using resilient materials that will pop back to their original shape after being squished.
But the real question, which Haldane has failed to address, is this: how will robot cockroaches fare against their true future enemy — robot contestants on Fear Factor?