October 18, 2013
At the North Carolina State University (NCSU), researchers are developing hundreds of cyborg cockroaches to scurry and help emergency room responders with containment after an earthquake, nuclear reactor disaster or chemical spill.
This research will be presented at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (ICIRS) next month.
These robot-infused insects will provide emergency personnel of “a quick picture of the environment” to access if humans should be allowed or if the dangers to their safety are too great.
Edgar Lobaton, assistant professor of electrical engineering at NCSU explained : “They have their own behavior, their own programming from nature. We’re exploiting that random movement to work in our favor.”
The technology that facilitates this development is software that can mimic natural movements of insects; how they swarm together.
This can provide a “sketch” and perspective of the area affected that humans could not attain from their limited vantage point.
In 2012, Lobaton’s team showed insects could be remotely controlled using stimulation to muscles and antennae. Implanted devices in the abdomen of hawkmoths were successful in stimulating flight.
In June of 2011, the US military admitted to having drone technology so sophisticated that it could be the size of a bug .
In what is referred to as the “microaviary” on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, drone are in development and design to replicate the flight patterns of moths, hawks and other air-borne creatures of the natural world.
Greg Parker, aerospace engineer, explains: “We’re looking at how you hide in plain sight” for the purpose of carrying out espionage or kill missions.
Cessna-sized Predatory drones, used to carry out unmanned attacks, are known round the world. The US Pentagon has an estimated 7,000 areil drones in their arsenal.
In 2011, the Pentagon requested $5 billion for drones from Congress by the year 2030. Their investigative technology is moving toward “spy flies” equipped with sensors and mircocameras to detect enemies and nuclear weapons.
Parker is using helicopter technology to allow his computer driven drone “dragonflies” become precise intelligence gathering weapons. “To have a computer do it 100 per cent of the time, and to do it with winds, and to do it when it doesn’t really know where the vehicle is, those are the kinds of technologies that we’re trying to develop.”
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has unveiled hummingbird drones that can fly at speeds of 11 miles per hour.
DARPA is also inserting computer chips into moth pupae in the hopes of hatching “cyborg moths”.
Within DARPA is the Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems project (HIMEM), whose aim is to develop shutterbugs – insects with cameras attached to their very nervous system that can be controlled remotely. Under HIMEM, there are researchers working on cyborg beetles.
Other institutions are hard at work for the US government, developing more insect technology.
The California Institute of Technology has created a “mircobat ornithopter” that flies and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.
A team at Harvard University has successfully built a housefly-like robot with synthetic wings that buzz at 120 beats per second.
Back in 2007, at the International Symposium on Flying Insects and Robots , Japanese researchers unveiled a radio-controlled hawk-moth.
While the US military would have the American public believe that these new “fly drones” are used for overseas missions, insect drones have been spotted surveilling streets right here in the US.
It is believed that these insect-like drones are high-tech surveillance tools used by the Department of Homeland Security.
The US government is experimenting with different types of micro-surveillance capabilities, such as cultivating insects with computer chips in them in the hopes of breeding software directly into their bodies to control flight patterns remotely.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been working on this technology since the 1970s. Known as the “inscetothopter”, it was developed by the Office of Research and Development for the CIA. It appears to be a dragonfly; however it contains a tiny gasoline engine to control its four wings. It was subsequently classified as a failure because it could not maintain flight against natural wind patterns.
The Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has created a butterfly shaped drone that is the smallest built thus far. It can hover in mid-flight, just as a helicopter and take pictures with its 0.15 gram camera and memory card.
The “butterfly” imitates nature so well, that birds and other insects are convinced it is real and not man-made.