Scientists turn a Drangonfly into a controllable, living drone

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

While many people are focused on traditional drones there are others who are trying to create bio-machine drone hybrids, and their uses could include surveillance and other nefarious purposes.

 

At a certain point it becomes really difficult to scale down machines, after all, a tiny drone can only be so tiny, so now scientists at Draper University in the US have come up with a solution, make a drone out of a dragonfly, and one day it could be teamed up with this “cyborg” remote control mouse

 

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Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have genetically modified a dragonfly to make the nerve endings in its spinal cord light-sensitive. The team at Draper then attached a backpack, powered by a tiny solar panel, that can control the dragonfly remotely with flashes of light. It allows them to send the insect where they want.

 

Watch it in action

 

Is the experiment cruel to dragonflies? Entomologists believe it’s pretty unlikely that insects “feel” pain in the way we do.

 

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And the technology has some important applications. For example, it could, if we stretch the art of the possible, be used to replace bees that farmers depend on, but that are dying out at a rather alarming rate, or be used to monitor the health of beehives in a novel way. But cyborg insects like this one could also be used as the next generation of surveillance equipment – something that, funnily enough, hasn’t been lost on the Chinese or US Governments who both have their own “Cyborg insect” programs under way, and combine it with plants that can also act as surveillance devices, thanks to DARPA, and, yes, the world just got a lot weirder for you. Welcome to my world.

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