Ildar Rachmatulin of the University of Heriota Watta, together with his colleagues, built a low-cost laser system that detects and frightens or eliminates cockroaches, operating effectively up to a distance of 1.2 metres.
This is not Mr. Rachmatulin ' s first project in this direction: he previously built a system that, with the help of a single-paid computer, Raspberry Pi and a laser, detects and neutralizes mosquitoes. In a new iteration, the engineer replaced the computer with a more efficient machine-view algorithm, NVIDIA Jetson Nano. By using two cameras, the system determines the location of the insect; these data are converted into an analog signal with a voltage of 0 to 5 V, the signal hits the galvanometer, which controls the angle of turn of the two mirrors, and they in turn direct the laser beam to the right side.
The inventor tested a plant with different laser capacities: the beam causes the insect to fly at a small rate — a more humane way that could in theory force them to avoid certain locations; the cockroach is effectively "neutralized" — to put it to death. Mr. Rachmatoulin has published all the materials on his GitHub project and has noted that the components for the assembly of the plant will cost no more than $250. Some enthusiasts have already begun to test it on other pests, including hornets. The plant promises to be more effective than traditional alternatives such as mechanical traps and chemistry — the latter often damage the environment and destroy all insects, not just pests.
In future versions of the installation, the author wants to make the laser beam thinner and train the system to target certain parts of the insect's body, but in his home context he recommends not to use his invention; it can damage not only the cockroaches but also the eyes of his owner.