Monday, February 02, 2009

The Army's New Age Warrior: Cyborg Beetles

Scientists at the University of California have created cyborg giant flower beetles with implanted electrodes and a radio receiver attached to the bugs back. Using those electrodes researches can send electrical impulses wirelessly controlling the beetles flight and movements.

The beetle's implants consists of an off-the-shelf microprocessor, a radio receiver, and a micro battery attached to a custom-printed circuit board, along with six electrodes implanted into the animals' optic lobes and flight muscles. Flight commands are wirelessly sent to the beetle via a radio-frequency transmitter that's controlled by a nearby laptop. Oscillating electrical pulses delivered to the beetle's optic lobes trigger takeoff, while a single short pulse ceases flight. Signals sent to the left or right basilar flight muscles make the animal turn right or left, respectively.

Michel Maharbiz and his colleagues have developed a tiny rig for research, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Their research could one day be used for surveillance purposes or for search-and-rescue missions.

Source: Technology Review

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