back to article Boffins hunt and kill cockroaches with machine vision laser

Researchers gave a laser beam machine vision and trained it to hunt cockroaches. The rationale is that pesticides are bad for the environment – at least that was the excuse they gave in the abstract. Ildar Rakhmatulin, Mathieu Lihoreau and Jose Pueyo of Heriot-Watt University, University Paul Sabatier and the University of …

  1. Jan 0 Silver badge

    Maybe let's wait for the perfection of the lower powered mosquito laser?

    This 'roach laser sounds as if it could do severe damage to humans. Let's start with something lower powered that maybe only lightly scars the owner's retinas?

    1. dvd

      Re: Maybe let's wait for the perfection of the lower powered mosquito laser?

      I'd idly dreamt about doing this with wasps in the past when they've invaded our kitchen.

      It was potential eyeball damage that stopped me, plus the thought of raining down bits of fried wasp on our guests.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: Maybe let's wait for the perfection of the lower powered mosquito laser?

        Didn't Bill Gates do something like this for mosquitos?

        And could it be re-purposed for Drosophila melanogaster?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe let's wait for the perfection of the lower powered mosquito laser?

      "Let's start with something lower powered that maybe only lightly scars the owner's retinas"

      ...similar to this...

    3. zuckzuckgo Silver badge

      Re: Maybe let's wait for the perfection of the lower powered mosquito laser?

      On the other hand, if we raised the power a bit it might be effective at neutralizing some cancerous moles on exposed skin. Only downside I see is finding room for the obligatory shark.

  2. First Light Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    I smell an Ig Nobel

    But does it make a "Pew Pew" sound?

    I'm not sure how practical it is. If the cockroaches just run away they can come back again.

    How many hours of lasering will it take? Plus will it "neutralize" their eggs?

  3. jake Silver badge

    "more effective and environmental friendly approaches are needed"

    I know of a much more effective and environmentally friendly approach. Far, far cheaper, too. And doesn't require electricity. Non-toxic to humans and other animals (keep it away from your bees, pet tranatula, friendly neighborhood scorpions, and ant farm).

    Simply dust the affected area with DE.

    About $20/10lbs at your local farm store.

    1. Dizzy Dwarf

      Re: "more effective and environmental friendly approaches are needed"

      DE = Diatomaceous Earth?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "more effective and environmental friendly approaches are needed"

        Yep.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: "more effective and environmental friendly approaches are needed"

      friendly neighborhood scorpions

      [FX: Raised eyebrows] What sort of neighbourhood do you live in?

      1. Withdrawn

        Re: "more effective and environmental friendly approaches are needed"

        >What sort of neighbourhood do you live in?

        Desert metro

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: "more effective and environmental friendly approaches are needed"

        "What sort of neighbourhood do you live in?"

        For scorpions? Pretty much anywhere South of the Northern version of the 50th Parallel, with the exception of the Great Lakes & North Eastern US, and New Zealand. Why? Where do you live?

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: "What sort of neighbourhood do you live in?"

          Allegedly Ongar station was a hot-bed for them, but this has since been dismissed as fake news.

          https://www.eorailway.co.uk/the-railway/the-scorpion-tales/

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: "What sort of neighbourhood do you live in?"

            I believe at one time Ongar was known for its book lack.

    3. Ken G Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: "more effective and environmental friendly approaches are needed"

      Where's the fun in that?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "more effective and environmental friendly approaches are needed"

        The harvest.

  4. Howard Sway Silver badge

    One day it's boffins in a lab zapping bugs

    The next day it'll be the bugs in your program that start zapping you.

    This is how Daleks start.

  5. Empire of the Pussycat

    I find myself thinking, hmmm, works on cockroaches, it should work on brexiters

    (body)

  6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    You wait till evolution kicks in...

    Oh, I dunno, maybe cockroaches develop mirrors on their bodies so that anyone shining a laser at them gets zapped.

    I will leave you with this...

    Warning: contains upsetting scenes

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOOy01icc40

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: You wait till evolution kicks in...

      Then we change the frequency of the laser.

      Simples.

      1. Roger Kynaston Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: You wait till evolution kicks in...

        "I've set the laser to a modulating frequency but they will adapt quickly. I predict we will only get three or four shots at most."

        Sorry had to be done.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: You wait till evolution kicks in...

          Yeah, should have used a decent random number generator to set the frequency, not a regular modulation pattern. Surely they have quantum stuff by then?

  7. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Flame

    Bastards

    Typical humans tormenting my bretheren merely to make money.

    One day humanity will pay for this along with turning my fellow cockroaches into cyborgs (as detailed on el-reg a few weeks back)

    We will rise and then you wont be laughing as we take over your petty little world.

    <sends his top research team off to design mirrors and head mounted lasers..........

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Bastards

      You lot ain't taking over.

      The Tardigrades took over about a hundred million years ago, and they ain't lettin' go.

    2. Little Mouse Silver badge

      re bastards

      i wonder what archy and mehitabel would have had to say about these recent leaps forward in science

    3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Bastards

      Zed, we have a lot of bugs.

  8. Ozchemist

    Scaling?

    I have a problem with pigeons and miner birds - could someone suggest suitable scaling for the laser? TIA

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Scaling?

      That's what cats are for.

    2. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Scaling?

      Miner birds?

      I'd feel bad killing any animal that might actually talk back to me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Scaling?

        You're perhaps thinking of mynah birds?

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Scaling?

          Or canaries….

        2. Little Mouse Silver badge

          Re: Scaling?

          Mynah? Phew - My mistake. In that case fry the undeserving little fuckers.

  9. david 12 Silver badge

    Maybe the sun and a magnifying glass? Or pulling the legs off?

    I'm no fan of cockroaches, but burning insects for "2 0r 3 seconds" sounds like something psychotic small boys do before they're big enough to torture cats or become serial killers.

  10. david 12 Silver badge

    More useful current implementation

    There is already a device in use in fish farms that recognizes parasite-infested fish as they pass through a gate inside the pond, and burns off the parasites as the fish goes past.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: More useful current implementation

      Gollum thanks you for the information to ensure his preciouses fishes are parasite-free.

      Top notch.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dinner?

    I've never [intentionally] eaten insects before [that I know of].

    Do they have to be cooked? Will this also cook them, and send me an email when their ready to be eaten?

    I don't think I'd be comfortable eating insects, but for some one who might this would be nice to know.

    1. jake Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Dinner?

      Not dinner, rather a snack. Crickets, anyway ... the dried ones taste & crunch almost exactly like popcorn with a hint of dried shrimp[0]. I toss 'em with a little salt and some chili powder[1], and sometimes throw in a little lime zest. Tasty, cheap, and nutritious. What's not to like? You can easily find them online as "Chapulines", if you have the mind to do so.

      Yes, they go well with beer.

      I've never tried cockroaches, nor is it high on my list of things to do. Somehow I suspect that laser braising isn't going to change this anytime soon.

      [0] The ones a friend sends me from Mexico, anyway.

      [1] Often jalapino, but sometimes I'll go hotter. Depends on who I'm sharing with.

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: I've never [intentionally] eaten insects before [that I know of].

      I'm sure you've ingested cochineal dye.

  12. Filippo Silver badge

    I can't help noticing that the flow chart does not have a "Turn off the laser" step.

  13. The Kraken

    Someone will put this on Kickstarter

    … and it will be a big hit, in my city, where cockroaches are a massive problem.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so new

    I was part of a team which set up almost exactly this system circa 2018 - except we just tracked Fruit Flies in a container with a very low powered laser and so didn't exterminate our test subjects. Demonstration for military - so no more details, but it's good that academia has finally caught up!

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Not so new

      Are the military intending to declare war on fruit flies? I know they're a bloody nuisance but that's overkill.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: Not so new

        Better fruit flies than emus - that one didn't end well (for the military, not sure the emus noticed)

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Not so new

          In case anyone doesn't know what this is about look here.

          1. trindflo Bronze badge

            Re: Not so new

            Thanks for that! The John Cleese / Rob Schneider movie is due out shortly:

            https://7news.com.au/entertainment/john-cleese-rob-schneider-write-script-for-australian-emu-war-movie-c-2307774

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Upping the power could be quite effective.

    I run a 100w laser cutter for various projects and over this summer we had quite a few wasps coming in & out of the building.

    I can confirm that at 50% power a wasp flying through the unfocused beam loses the majority of it's wing surface (and ends up walking)

    at 75% power a wasp flying through the beam ends up as several parts of wasp and a puff of smoke

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Did you find out what happened to colleagues passing through the beam?

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
        Joke

        View the 1982's documentary TRON.

        Yup, that's where they go. Inside a computer.

  16. Dr. Ellen
    Happy

    Movie?

    Perhaps not a full movie but it's been a manga and anime for years, and is also a video game. The starring laser eliminator is a doll named Hoi-hoi-san.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnHqgd1i2fY

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