Posted by: zyxo | May 9, 2008

robotic insects or cyber insects ?

BAE systems is going to manufacture insect-sized robots (modeled after dragonflies and spiders) for US army to be used as extended senses for the soldiers on the battlefields (original article). A contract worth 38 million US dollars.
This is the first way to do it, namely making robots that look and behave like insects.

The second way attacks the problem from a complete different angle : build technology into living insects, so that they become cyborgs. Experiments are already taking place.
Already in the fifties scientists began to implant electrodes in the brain of bulls to control their behavior.
Again in 1992 a rat could be steered in any direction thanks to electrodes in its brain.
Later on it were spiny dogfish that could be steered thanks to brain implants.
But all these animals are too big for military purposes. And the problem with the smaller ones, the insects, is that the electronical devices are too big to be implanted in the insect.
Nevertheless one of the newest DARPA projects is exactly to do the trick with insects. They develop “tightly coupled machine-insect interfaces by placing micro-mechanical systems inside the insects during the early stages of metamorphosis”.

So next time you see a moth on your window, perhaps it is an insect G.I. Jane …

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