Engineers may have already created cyborg cockroaches, but now they have fitted the giant flower beetle with radio transmitter ‘backpacks,’ which enable them to control the flight of insects in mid-air for the first time.
Researchers were able to make the beetles take off and land, as well as hover in mid-air and turn left and right on a whim.
The technology could eventually lead to the insects being used as surveillance drones in disaster areas.
The engineers behind the feat say that hard-wiring beetles for radio-controlled flight has enabled them to reveal more about the insects’ biology.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) focused on muscle used by beetles for finely graded turns.
They used giant flower beetles, Mecynorrhina torquata, which were just two inches (6cm) long on average and weighed 0.3 ounces (eight grams).
By strapping tiny computers and wireless radios onto the backs of the beetles, and recording neuromuscular data as the bugs flew untethered, the team of scientists worked out that a muscle known for controlling the folding of wings is also critical to steering.
They used the information to improve the precision of the beetles’ remote-controlled turns, according to the study, which was published in the journal Current Biology.
As well as highlighting the potential of wireless sensors in biological research, scientists believe that research in this field could also lead to applications such as tools to aid search-and-rescue operations in areas too dangerous for humans.
‘Beetles are ideal study subjects because they can carry relatively heavy payloads,’ said Hirotaka Sato, an assistant professor at NTU.
‘We could easily add a small microphone and thermal sensors for applications in search-and-rescue missions. With this technology, we could safely explore areas not accessible before, such as the small nooks and crevices in a collapsed building.’
Michel Maharbiz, an associate professor in UC Berkeley, said: ‘This is a demonstration of how tiny electronics can answer interesting, fundamental questions for the larger scientific community.’
‘Biologists trying to record and study flying insects typically had to do so with the subject tethered. It had been unclear if tethering interfered with the insect’s natural flight motions.’
AND CONSUMER KITS ARE AVAILABLE TO CREATE CYBORG INSECTS
- The idea of turning cockroaches into cyborg slaves is not new, Gizmodo reported.
- Kits are available for under $100 (£63) that enable people to control their own insect by stimulating its antennae with electrical signals.
- This lets people ‘drive’ an insect for a few minutes.
- While the creators of the ‘Roboroach kit’ claim the cockroach forgets the experience after 20 minutes, some people think it is cruel.
Before now, it had been difficult to explain the role that smaller muscles play in fine steering.
The study has revealed that the coleopteran third axillary sclerite (3Ax) muscle, which is found in the articulation of insect wings, plays a key function in the beetle’s ability to steer left or right.
Professor Sato said: ‘Since the 1800s, this coleopteran muscle was thought to function solely in wing folding.
‘Our wireless system allows us to record neuromuscular movements in natural, free flight, so we see now that this muscle is also used for turning.’
The researchers tested the function of this muscle by stimulating it during flight for graded turns made by giant flower beetles.
This was done using the beetle ‘backpack’ which comprised a tiny microcontroller, built-in wireless receiver and transmitter.
Six electrodes were connected to the beetle’s optic lobes and flight muscles.
During test flights, signals were transmitted to the beetle backpack every millisecond, directing the beetles to take off, turn left or right, or even hover in mid-flight.
The beetles were untethered but in a closed room equipped with eight 3-D motion-capture cameras.
Professor Maharbiz said: ‘Our findings about the flight muscle allowed us to demonstrate for the first time a higher level of control of free-flying beetles. It’s a great partnership between engineering and science.’
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And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay -Daniel 2:43 (KJV).
“…many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” – Daniel 12:4 (KJV).
And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months-Revelation 9:7-10 (KJV).
“Power and signs and lyingwonders”…rejection of truth, and for this “God shall send them a strong delusion that they shall believe a lie” – 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 (KJV). Satan, has already set the stage for deception – he teaches today the lie of the immortal soul. “…Ye shall not surely die…then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ -Genesis 3:5 (KJV).
Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee -Leviticus 19:19 (KJV).