In the future, when a spy worries about a room being bugged, she might have to look for actual bugs. Back in March we told you about Michel Maharbiz attaching electrodes to beetles’ brains to get them to beat their wings. Well, Maharbiz and his colleagues at the University of California Berkeley have taken the next step and taken their cyborg beetles out for a wireless flight. The experiment is funded by DARPA in the hopes of eventually creating a fully remote controlled spy insect that could listen in to conversations or possibly find missing people after a disaster. Check out the brief video from New Scientist below.
In the recent experiment shown in the video, the species Mecynorrhina torquata was big enough to handle the necessary electronic devices to allow it to fly wirelessly. Looking at it, you almost can’t tell the beetle is under someone else’s control. Researchers are hopeful that whether or not the insects could be cybernetically enhanced to become spies or rescuers, they will still reveal interesting knowledge about the way the neural systems of insects function.