Tag Archives: insect

Our new cyborg insect overlords

livesilkmothContinuing the robotic insect theme: researchers in Japan are developing the means to recreate the brains of insects in electronic circuits and thus modify existing insect brains to perform useful tasks, like finding narcotics, and earthquake victims:

In an example of ‘rewriting’ insect brain circuits, Kanzaki’s team has succeeded in genetically modifying a male silkmoth so that it reacts to light instead of odour, or to the odour of a different kind of moth.

Such modifications could pave the way to creating a robo-bug which could in future sense illegal drugs several kilometres away, as well as landmines, people buried under rubble, or toxic gas, the professor said.

Kanzaki also observes how remarkably adaptable biological organisms are:

“Humans walk only at some five kilometres per hour but can drive a car that travels at 100 kilometres per hour. It’s amazing that we can accelerate, brake and avoid obstacles in what originally seem like impossible conditions,” he said.

Our brain turns the car into an extension of our body,” he said, adding that “an insect brain may be able to drive a car like we can. I think they have the potential.

It certainly raises interesting questions about how to achieve intelligent machinery: why reinvent the wheel creating strong AI? We can reverse engineer animals that fly or hunt then adapt them to our purposes.

[from Physorg][image from Physorg]

DARPA developing cyborg insects

Photo Credit: Mike Libby, Insect Lab

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding research that would embed insects with microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) that would then in turn allow them to be controlled remotely. The program, dubbed “Hybrid-Insect MEMS” or ‘”HI-MEMS,” is funding three research groups at the University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boyce Thompson Institute.

The final milestone [of the project] will be flying a cyborg insect to within five meters of a specific target located some one hundred meters away using remote control or a global positioning system (GPS). If HI-MEMS passes this test successfully, then DARPA will probably begin breeding in earnest. Insect swarms with various sorts of different embedded MEMS sensors–video cameras, audio microphones, chemical sniffers and more–could then penetrate enemy territory in swarms to perform reconnaissance missions impossible or too dangerous for soldiers.