AI laser that kills roaches has been called “a little dangerous”.

A new paper recently revealed that an artificial intelligence-controlled laser has been developed that can identify and eliminate cockroaches.

According to a paper published in the magazine on Sept. 21 Oriental Insectsthis laser represents a new method of pest control with the ability to kill individual bugs from up to 4 feet away without the use of harmful pesticides.

“In this study, we present a computer vision-automated laser system for neutralizing and influencing the behavior of insect pests,” the authors write. “By conducting experiments on domestic cockroaches, Blattella germanicawe show that our approach enables the immediate and selective neutralization of individual insects at a distance of up to 1.2 m [4 feet].”

Cockroaches are one of the biggest pests around the world, eating and contaminating human and animal food and crops and leaving an unpleasant odor in homes. According to data from the 2021 US Census, 14 million of the approximately 124 million inhabited residential units in the US reported seeing cockroaches in their homes in the previous year.

Cockroach lying on its back
Stock image of a dead cockroach. Researchers have developed an AI-controlled laser that can detect and kill cockroaches and other insects.
iStock/Getty ImagesPlus

“Pest control is an important issue for the food industry and public health. Current agrochemical practices to control harmful insects are generally problematic, leading to resistance and often affecting non-target species,” the paper’s authors write.

Methods of controlling a cockroach infestation include using poisoned baits containing hydramethylnon or fipronil and boric acid powder, and insecticides containing deltamethrin or pyrethrin. However, these methods are harmful to pets and humans and pollinating insects such as bees. Cockroaches can even develop resistance to the chemicals over time.

Therefore, in the future, this pest control laser could be a method to control cockroach infestations without the use of harmful chemicals. This is a particularly pressing issue in the years to come as the effects of climate change progress, as pests are expected to become a much larger problem, particularly in agriculture, due to global temperature rise and consequent altered population dynamics.

The hotter temperatures can increase the physiological activity and metabolic rate of insects, causing pests to gobble up more crops. Additionally, the changing climate will cause the ranges of both crops and pests to shift to places that may not have their usual enemies, leading to a population boom.

The authors hope their laser pest elimination system could represent a way forward to eliminating insects without also killing important species.

“The parameters of our prototype system can be easily tuned for applications in different situations and for different pest species such as mosquitoes, locusts and caterpillars. The prospect of this study is to pursue the creation of a self-contained, environmentally safe, compact and low-cost and energy-efficient pest control equipment system,” the authors write.

The device itself uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to use a camera to detect and detect the cockroach before firing a laser at it and killing it. The researchers trained the AI ​​to know what a cockroach looked like in different lighting conditions and positions.

Cockroach Killer Laser Diagram
Summary diagram of the laser setup from the paper: 1 – transparent box with cockroaches, 2 – pi cameras, 3 – jetson nano, 4 – laser, 5 – galvanometer, 6 – laser beam, L – distance between laser device and target.
Rakhmatulin et al. / Oriental insects

“We used 1,000 images created with different lighting to make research more effective at any time of day,” the authors write.

However, this pest control method has its disadvantages and dangers, as it uses a laser powerful enough to kill the insect.

“It is very important to note that the use of this device must be limited to areas where the possibility of the laser beam hitting another untargeted living specimen is minimized,” the authors write. “The aim of this work is to demonstrate the feasibility of using a laser to control insect pests, but we also understand that there are safety issues with using lasers in insect control processes and further investigation would be needed.”

Laser radiation can cause serious eye damage, so if this device were used in the home, it would be dangerous for adults, children and pets alike.

“It’s not recommended because it’s a little dangerous,” said Ildar Rakhmatulin, a research associate at Heriot-Watt University and lead author of the study vIce. “Not only can lasers damage cockroaches, they can also damage your eyes.”

Depending on the wavelength, lasers can damage the cornea, lens or retina by burning the tissue. As the authors explain in the article, a laser can also penetrate a blood vessel and clog it, or even hit a spot where nerves from throughout the eye travel to the brain. AI laser that kills roaches has been called “a little dangerous”.

Rick Schindler

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