Children

Bug Racer is steered by an oblivious live cricket

The cricket habitat is placed within the Bug Racer
The cricket habitat is placed within the Bug Racer
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The Bug Racer is priced at $30
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The Bug Racer is priced at $30
The cricket-driven Bug Racer
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The cricket-driven Bug Racer
The Bug Racer with its cricket habitat and collection device
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The Bug Racer with its cricket habitat and collection device
The cricket habitat is placed within the Bug Racer
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The cricket habitat is placed within the Bug Racer

It's not often that you hear the words "Cricket not included" used in reference to a toy car, but there's a first time for everything. That said, if you are able to supply your own cricket, it can now be used to steer Mattel's new Bug Racer. Presumably other similar-sized insects would work, too … just don't expect any of them to have great driving skills.

The Bug Racer contains a removable clear plastic "cricket habitat," which is taken out when the car isn't in use. That module has air holes, space for food (bits of chopped fruit and veggies), and a hinged top that can be opened for cleaning. It's still pretty small, though, so hopefully users will utilize the included collection device to transfer the cricket back and forth between a larger home.

When it's time to motor, a sliding door in the habitat is temporarily pulled open, allowing the cricket to wander into the front "control room" section. Once the habitat is placed in the car and the power is turned on, motion sensors in the front of the vehicle detect the insect's movements, and steer the car accordingly – if the cricket moves to the left side of the control room, the car turns left, and so on.

The Bug Racer with its cricket habitat and collection device
The Bug Racer with its cricket habitat and collection device

Needless to say, the cricket won't have the slightest idea what's going on, so the Bug Racer will really just be moving randomly. With that in mind, it automatically backs up a bit whenever it's stopped by an obstacle. It can also be set to a no-cricket-needed Autodrive mode, in which it just cruises along in a straight line.

While the whole thing might seem more than a little … creepy, it's not unprecedented. Scientists at the University of Tokyo have previously used moths to steer a wheeled robot, while the Fish on Wheels project saw a goldfish steering a tiny car.

The Bug Racer is priced at US$30, requires four AA batteries, and can be seen in action below. Most pet shops sell crickets as food for reptiles.

Source: Bug Racer via Gizmodo

BUG RACER WITH JEFFERY X. BUGMANN

4 comments
mhpr262
Some time ago I read an article in a children's magazine from the sixties about how to build your own working "four-engine bomber" model: YOu catch four houseflies in a glass, put them in the fridge until they are really sluggish, then you glue them onto the wing of a tiny "bomber silhouette" you have cut out from paper. This is on the same level.
Sergiuss
A long time ago, on a farm where I lived, my brothers and I did races, using alive and strong beetles, which were carefully placed under the cover of a matchbox. Then we let them to fly free, or, by the luck of some toad, turn dinner. Well, this was before of the politically correct neurosis. I don't know what that green and ecological persons would shout about this Mattel's cricket slavery...
someguy
@mhpr262, I remember something like this too, with a single fly at the tip of a wood-stick airplane. Never tried these things myself, I always think about how would I react if someone did this to me. Either way, I'm not sure it's the same though, because those flies were doomed to die, basically, whereas the crickets are just "kept". I think I'd rather be the cricket than the glued fly. But that's just me.
darkstar01
The guy in the video seems a little over the top, fake, no way i'd buy this product ever.
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