Scientists make AI laser turret for killing cockroaches

Scientists have developed a laser with artificial intelligence (AI) designed to neutralise cockroaches as a new form of pest control.

The team’s experiments showed that its laser system “enables the immediate and selective neutralisation of individual insects” from a distance of up to 1.2 metres.

Ildar Rakhmatulin of the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh’s School of Engineering and Physical science and his team developed the automated laser to control and neutralise cockroaches.

His team aimed to create a safe, compact, low-cost, and energy-efficient laser system.

The system leverages what the team describes as “machine vision” to target the insects, using a Jetson Nano computer with CUDA software.

The team used three different lasers of varying strengths for its tests:

  • Power laser, 300mW, 450nm from Oxlasers, China;
  • Power laser, 1,600mW, 808nm from Oxlasers, China; and
  • Power laser, 100mW, 660nm from Oxlasers, China.

Results showed that for effective neutralisation of a cockroach, a laser power of 1,600mW and a spot size of 3mm must hit its body area.

The team found that missing the body area and hitting an appendage triggered the cockroach’s escape response resulting in less effective neutralisation.

Rakhmatulin’s team achieved three of its four aims regarding the laser system. Namely, it said the system it created was compact, low-cost, and energy efficient.

However, the researchers noted the system must be improved before it can enter large-scale deployment.

The danger relates to the laser beam hitting peoples’ eyes, which can cause various problems, such as irreversible vision loss.

“To overcome this problem, we can develop additional security systems, such as human detection and audio sensors,” the team said.

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Scientists make AI laser turret for killing cockroaches