Cyborg bugs and locust flight simulators

We seem to be on an insect tip here at the moment, so entomophobes may want to click away until tomorrow. This stuff’s even creepier than software ants, too – via (and many other places) comes video footage of the Pentagon’s latest experiments toward remote-controlling the flight of beetles with embedded hardware:

That’s more than a little unsettling, and I’m not usually bothered by insects. More details over at Wired‘s Danger Room blog.

But why build hardware into fragile real bugs when you could just build fully robotic critters? Obviously you’ll need to suss out the mechanics of their ability to fly, first… so you’re going to need a locust flight simulator like the one developed by a fellow called Adrian Thomas.

The simulator could be a big step forward for the many teams around the world who are designing robotic insects, mainly for military purposes, though Thomas expects them to have a massive role as toys, too. “Imagine sitting in your living room doing aerial combat with radio-controlled dragonflies. Everybody would love that,” he says.

Hmm. I think most folk would far prefer to have all insect combat confined to entirely virtual spaces, at least within the home. And by the time these proposed toy insects make it to the marketplace, you probably won’t need to actually pilot them yourself – after all, you can already build your own self-piloting and fully autonomous GPS-enabled UAV without needing access to a Pentagon-sized budget.