When people see a cockroach, they most likely start to crawl out. Rarely would anyone think of turning them into cyborgs and using them in extremely dangerous environments where it would be dangerous for humans to enter.

Well, a group of Japanese engineers have done just that – they’ve developed a bunch of cyborg cockroaches that they claim can be used in search and rescue operations and in extremely dangerous environments where humans can’t function.

Researchers at the RIKEN Pioneering Research Cluster in Japan have designed a remote-controlled cyborg cockroach that can recharge. What they did was attach a special “backpack” to several cockroaches, which can then be controlled with a remote control.

The cyborg cockroaches are equipped with a tiny wireless control module powered by a rechargeable battery attached to a solar panel. Despite the mechanical devices, flexible and ultra-thin electronics allow cockroaches to move freely.

The cyborg cockroaches, which are part insect and part machine, are designed to enter dangerous areas, monitor the environment or perform search and rescue missions without the need for recharging.

The team used Madagascar cockroaches, about 6 cm (2.4 in) long. They attached a wireless foot control module and a lithium polymer battery to the top of the cockroach using a specially designed backpack. This was modeled after creating a 3D model of a cockroach’s body, from which the researchers created a stable and thin module.

In the experiment, scientists attached wires to the sense organs of cockroaches at the end of their abdomen. They send electrical impulses that cause the insect to move left or right. The battery pack was needed to send and receive these electrical signals. So the RIKEN team built a solar-powered module so they didn’t have to return to the docking station or its handler when they ran out of power.

Japanese researchers developed cyborg cockroaches for one very strange reason

The solar-powered module was attached to the top of the insect’s thorax, perfectly fitting the curved surface of the Madagascar cockroach. In addition, the system was stable on insects for more than a month.

The idea behind the experiment was that cyborg cockroaches enter crumpled buildings affected by an earthquake or any other natural disaster and help find survivors.

Although they were developed specifically for cockroaches, Kenjiro Fukuda, a senior researcher at RIKEN and head of the research team, believes their strategy could be adapted to other insects such as beetles and cicadas in the future.