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Cyborg cockroaches could scout dangerous areas

Everybody calm down! It’s going to be alright! The robotic cockroaches are here to save the day!

So maybe that line sounds a bit far-fetched now, but cyborg bugs really could help save lives someday. Researchers are experimenting with using remote-controlled roaches to explore disaster-stricken buildings. (Via YouTube / Buzz60)

The current plan is to send cockroaches into hard-to-explore areas equipped with tiny electronic backpacks. The roaches spread out randomly, and then seek out and follow along walls on command. A map of the area can then be made based on how close each bug is to its neighbors. (Via GigaOM)

Lead researcher Dr. Edgar Lobaton says the insect explorers could be useful mapping out collapsed buildings where GPS signals can’t be used.

“We focused on how to map areas where you have little or no precise information on where each biobot is. … This would give first responders a good idea of the layout in a previously unmapped area.” (Via North Carolina State University)

Although this study presents a novel use for cockroaches, the concept of bio-bugs has been developed pretty thoroughly in recent science.

Popular Science even has an instruction manual on how to build your very own biobug for just $50.

There’s even a Kickstarter campaign peddling commercial cyborg roach kits for the classroom. The project aims to teach people about how brains work, in bugs and in people.

But all this rampant bugbot experimentation has raised a few moral concerns.

Bio-ethicists have voiced concerns that remotely controlled cockroaches might suffer permanent physical or mental damage. Also, the whole mind-control aspect is a little unsettling. (Via Business Insider)

Researchers are still working on testing their software with actual roaches, and haven’t attached any commercial plans to their findings. Until they do, the experience of being trapped in a collapsed building with a swarm of robotic cockroaches will remain a distant dream — or a terrifying nightmare.

- See more at Newsy.com

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News

  • The Latest on the Senate Republican health care bill (all times local): 3:45 p.m. Texas Sen. John Cornyn says passing a health care bill won't get any easier if Republican leaders delay a Senate vote on the GOP health care plan. The Senate's No. 2 Republican said the Senate is on pace to hold a key procedural vote Wednesday. He said he feels 'a sense of urgency' to push forward because the health care system is in 'full meltdown mode.' Cornyn made the comments Sunday at a private gathering hosted by the libertarian Koch brothers in Colorado. He acknowledged the bill has critics: 'Some people have been more public about concerns but said they want to get to yes.' He said the vote is 'going to be close' and President Donald Trump is 'going to be important in the process.' ___ 3:25 p.m. President Donald Trump promised to repeal and replace the health care law Republicans deride as 'Obamacare.' But Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said Sunday the Senate's current plan to overhaul health care 'is not a full repeal or full replace.' The Republican lawmaker says, 'This is largely a Medicaid reform package.' Senate Republican leaders are scrambling for enough votes to approve their health care legislation as soon as this week. Sasse said he's neither finished reading the bill nor taken a position on it. Sasse addressed health care at a private retreat for top donors to the libertarian Koch brothers' political network, which favors full repeal. He was the featured luncheon speaker also attended by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Sen. John Cornyn. ___ 11:25 a.m. President Donald Trump is bemoaning what he calls 'the level of hostility' that he says has stymied bipartisanship in Washington. While discussing the Republican health bill during an interview on 'Fox & Friends,' Trump said it would be great if lawmakers from both parties could 'come up something that everybody's happy with.' Then he criticizes two prominent Democratic senators. Trump says the Democrats' 'theme is resist' and that 'if it was the greatest bill ever proposed in mankind, we wouldn't get a vote' from them. Trump said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized the GOP bill before knowing what was in it. And the president called Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren 'somebody that's just got a lot of hatred.' Warren is a leading liberal and defender of the current health law. ___ 11:20 a.m. One of the Republican senators who's opposing his party's health care bill as written says the Senate shouldn't vote on the plan this week. The lengthy proposal only came out last week, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to begin voting this week. That's not sitting well with GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. He says: 'I would like to delay the thing. There's no way we should be voting on this next week. No way.' He tells NBC's 'Meet the Press' that he has 'a hard time' believing that his constituents or even he 'will have enough time to properly evaluate' the measure. Johnson says he's made his views clear to the party leadership and the White House. ___ 10:45 a.m. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says Senate passage of the Republican bill to replace former President Barack Obama's health law is too close to call. He told ABC's 'This Week' the GOP has 'at best, a 50-50 chance.' In the narrowly divided Senate, defections from just three of the 52 Republican senators would doom the legislation. Schumer says Democrats have made clear they would be willing to work with Republicans to pass a Senate bill if they agree to drop a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and instead work to improve it. Schumer described the GOP proposal as 'devastating' to the middle class and 'that's what's making it so hard for them to pass it.' ___ 10:30 a.m. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says she thinks getting the votes needed in the Senate this week to pass a Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act could be very difficult. The moderate Republican says she has 'very serious concerns' about the proposed legislation but hasn't yet taken a position on it. She cited in part provisions that she believes could cut Medicaid more than the House version. So far five Republican senators have announced their opposition. Defections from just three of the Senate's 52 Republicans would doom the legislation. Collins says another seven to eight senators including herself remain troubled about the possible Medicaid cuts. She says she intends to wait for a Congressional Budget Office analysis before making a decision. Collins spoke on ABC's 'This Week.' ___ 9 a.m. President Donald Trump says he doesn't think congressional Republicans are 'that far off' on passing a health overhaul to replace what he's calling 'the dead carcass of Obamacare.' Trump says he believes his majority party is 'going to get there.' But that optimism runs counter to the public opposition of five Republican senators so far to the Senate GOP plan that would scuttle much of former President Barack Obama's health law. Unless those holdouts can be swayed, their numbers are more than enough to torpedo the measure developed in private by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and deliver a bitter defeat for the president. Trump tells 'Fox and Friends' that 'we've a very good plan.
  • DeKalb County police are trying to find a man thought to be a serial robber and his accomplice, saying they present more than just a threat to businesses. Authorities say it’s a public safety issue, too. “It's a safety issue when you're robbing businesses,” detective Chastity Cantrelo told Channel 2 Action News. “At any point, a customer could come in and startle the suspects, and he could make the mistake of shooting someone.” The person has hit two Waffle Houses and a Walgreens in three weeks. Police say he has never pulled a gun, just shown a handle. In two surveillance videos, the robber is wearing the same outfit — a gray and black zip-up hoodie, black sweatpants and sneakers. Also, he’s always wearing a white glove on one hand to keep from leaving fingerprints, police said. The armed robberies have some people in the area concerned. “I guess they feel really bold and brazen about what they're doing,” resident Ed Banks said. “It is pretty scary.” Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting crimestoppersatlanta.org.
  • SeaWorld is under investigation by two federal agencies who subpoenaed statements made by the company and its executives on or before August 2014 regarding the impact of the “Blackfish Documentary,” according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings published Friday.  The theme-park company reports receiving subpoenas in June from the U.S. Department of Justice as part of an investigation into statements about the 2013 anti-captivity documentary “and trading in the Company’s securities.” >> Read more trending news The filing also indicates the company received similar subpoenas from the SEC, although it is unclear when those were received.  “The Company has cooperated with these government inquiries and intends to continue to cooperate with any government requests or inquiries,” the filing says.  The filing also indicates the company’s board of directors formed a special committee with legal counsel to determine how to handle these investigations on June 16, two days after the company’s shareholder meeting.  The full SEC disclosure reads as follows:  In June 2017, the Company received a subpoena in connection with an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice concerning disclosures and public statements made by the Company and certain executives and/or individuals on or before August 2014, including those regarding the impact of the ‘Blackfish’ documentary, and trading in the Company’s securities. The Company also has received subpoenas from the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with these matters. On June 16, 2017, the Company’s Board of Directors formed a Special Committee comprised of independent directors with respect to these inquiries. The Special Committee has engaged counsel to advise and assist the Committee. The Company has cooperated with these government inquiries and intends to continue to cooperate with any government requests or inquiries.
  • The Latest on an oil tanker fire in Pakistan that killed more than 140 people (all times local): 12:20 a.m. An announcement over a mosque's loudspeaker that an overturned tanker truck had sprung a leak sent scores of villagers racing to the scene to gather spilled fuel. Then the wreck exploded, engulfing people in flames as they screamed in terror. Hospital and rescue officials say at least 153 men, women and children were killed, and dozens more are in critical condition. ___ 8:20 p.m. An overturned oil tanker burst into flames in Pakistan on Sunday, killing 153 people who had rushed to the scene of the highway accident to gather leaking fuel. A doctor at Bahawalpur's Victoria Hospital in south Punjab said the latest deaths occurred at a hospital in Multan where some of the 50 critically injured were taken, many of them suffering extensive burns. A senior rescue official in the area said the death toll could rise further as dozens are still in critical condition. Local news channels showed black smoke billowing skyward and scores of burned bodies, as well as rescue officials speeding the injured to hospital and army helicopters ferrying the wounded. ___ 2:30 p.m. A rescue official says the death toll from an oil tanker fire in Pakistan has risen to 148, with dozens more in critical condition. The disaster occurred when hundreds of residents of a nearby village gathered at the site of an overturned oil tanker to collect the leaking fuel. It's believed that a spark from the many cars and motorcycles that raced to the scene ignited the fuel. Dr. Mohammad Baqar, a senior rescue official in the area, confirmed the latest toll, updating a previous figure. He says many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and will have to be identified through DNA testing. Some of the most badly burned were evacuated by army helicopters to Multan, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. The dead included men, women and children. ___ 10 a.m. A Pakistani official says more than 100 people have been killed after an oil tanker overturned and burst into flames. The tanker flipped over Sunday and the fire from the oil spill engulfed scores of residents who had rushed to collect leaking fuel. Another 50 people have been seriously injured. Dr. Rizwan Naseer, director of Punjab provincial rescue services, says rescuers are collecting the badly burned bodies, many beyond recognition. He says the death toll is likely to rise.
  • Britain's fire-safety crisis expanded substantially Saturday as authorities said 34 high-rise apartment blocks across the country had cladding that failed fire safety tests. London officials scrambled to evacuate four public housing towers after experts found them 'not safe for people to sleep in overnight.' Hundreds of residents hastily packed their bags and sought emergency shelter, with many angry and confused about the chaotic situation. Some refused to leave their high-rise apartments. Scores of evacuees slept on inflatable beds in a gym while officials sought better accommodations for them. Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said it decided to evacuate four blocks in north London's Chalcots Estate late Friday after fire inspectors uncovered problems with 'gas insulation and door stops,' which, combined with the presence of flammable cladding encasing the buildings, meant residents had to leave immediately. The evacuation comes amid widening worries about the safety of high-rise apartment blocks across the country following the inferno that engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London on June 14, killing at least 79 people. Attention has focused on the 24-story tower's external cladding material, which has been blamed for the rapid spread of that blaze, but multiple other fire risks have now been identified in some housing blocks. The government said Saturday that the cladding samples that failed fire safety tests came from 34 apartment towers in cities including London, Manchester, Plymouth and Portsmouth. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said further testing 'is running around the clock.' So far, Camden Council has been the only local authority to have asked residents to leave as a precaution. It said about 650 apartments were evacuated, though initial reports put the figure at 800 apartments. The council said residents would be out of their homes for three to four weeks while it completes fire-safety upgrades. 'I know some residents are angry and upset, but I want to be very clear that Camden Council acted to protect them,' Gould said in a statement. 'Grenfell changed everything, and when told our blocks were unsafe to remain in, we acted.' Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been criticized for her slow response to the Grenfell tragedy, said Saturday that the government was supporting Camden officials to ensure residents have somewhere to stay while building work is done. In response, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said May needed to 'get a grip' and lead a stronger response to what is now a 'national threat.' Residents — including families with babies and elderly relatives — trooped out of the buildings late Friday night with suitcases and plastic bags stuffed with clothes. Council workers guided dozens to a nearby gym, where they spent the night on inflatable mattresses. Others were being put up in hotels or other housing projects. Many residents complained about a lack of information and confusion. Officials first announced the evacuation of one building, then expanded it to five before reducing it to four. Some residents said they learned about the evacuation from the television news hours before officials came knocking on doors. Renee Williams, 90, who has lived in Taplow Tower since 1968, told Britain's Press Association: 'No official came and told us what's going on. I saw it on the TV, so I packed an overnight bag. 'It's unbelievable. I understand that it's for our safety but they can't just ask us to evacuate with such short notice. There's no organization and it's chaos,' she said. Carl McDowell, 31, said he took one look at the inflatable beds at the gym and went back to his Taplow apartment to sleep there overnight. Other residents were distraught that they were ordered to evacuate, but were told to leave their pets behind in buildings that could be dangerous. Fire-safety experts say the Grenfell Tower blaze, which police said was touched off by a fire at a refrigerator, was probably due to a string of failures, not just the cladding, which is widely used to provide insulation and enhance the appearance of buildings. Police said Friday they are considering filing manslaughter charges in the Grenfell disaster and they were conducting a wide-ranging investigation that will look at everything that contributed to it. The Metropolitan Police said cladding attached to Grenfell during a recent renovation failed safety tests conducted by investigators. 'We are looking at every criminal offense from manslaughter onwards,' Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack told reporters. 'We are looking at all health and safety and fire safety offenses, and we are reviewing every company at the moment involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.' The government has ordered an immediate examination of the refrigerator model that started the blaze, the Hotpoint model FF175BP refrigerator-freezer. The government also urged building owners, public and private, to submit samples of their cladding. One hotel chain, Premier Inn, has calling in experts to check its buildings. Police say 79 people are either confirmed or presumed dead in the Grenfell blaze, although that number may change, and it will take weeks to find and identify remains. To encourage cooperation with authorities, May said the government won't penalize any Grenfell fire survivors who were in the country illegally. ___ Sheila Norman-Culp, Gregory Katz and Alastair J. Grant contributed to this report.
  • Officer Jeffrey Leach traded a chance to write a ticket for an opportunity to teach a lesson, Dunwoody police said. Leach, who joined the Dunwoody Police Department last March, pulled a car over when he suspected a child wasn’t properly seated in a car seat, police said. The driver admitted he didn’t have a seat for his youngest child and Leach, who works as one of the department’s car seat installation technicians, gave the man a choice. Rather than pay a citation, the driver and his two children followed Leach to Target, where he helped them choose a safe and affordable seat. Then, Leach installed it. “We're super proud of Officer Leach for exercising a little compassion and helping keep our Dunwoody streets safe,” Lt. Fidel Espinoza said on Facebook.  RELATED: Sheriff reduces jail time for Georgia inmates who saved officer  In other news: