Scientists build cockroach killing laser

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Cockroaches are famously resilient, however, what they can’t survive is the new laser and artificial intelligence system designed by a scientist at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

Ildar Rakhmatulin tested his system on cockroaches last year. The findings are now published in Oriental Insects.

Mr Rahkmatulin’s system, which was all built using affordable, off-the-shelf equipment, detects cockroaches with high accuracy from 1.2 metres.

The system relies on machine vision, which basically gives a computer the ability to see. Two cameras send signals back to the computer which give the cockroach’s position.

That information is used to point the laser toward the cockroach. Machine vision then confirms whether the cockroach is still moving or not.

“This laser system is selective and eco-friendly pest control method. It’s extremely promising”, said Mr Rakhmatulin.

“It’s a tunable system, so it could be used to protect against mosquitoes, to keep predatory hornets away from bees or parasites from valuable crops or stores.”

He has published his methods, data and equipment used online. However, the open-source information comes with a warning.

“This system is not suitable for household use,” he said. “The laser used will cause blindness or serious damage to the eyes.

“I’m sorry for people with cockroaches in their house, but this isn’t the solution for them.”

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With more than 25 years' experience in business-to-business publishing, Simon is editor of LBM titles Pest and OvertheCounter. Big fan of Manchester United.