Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Robotics Biotech The Military

Radio-Controlled Cyborg Beetles Become Reality 150

Posted by timothy
from the tsa-agents-didn't-show-enough-drive dept.
holy_calamity writes "DARPA's plans to create brain chips for insects so they can be steered like an RC plane are bearing fruit. Videos show that a team at Berkeley can use radio signals to tell palm-sized African beetles to take off and land, and to lose altitude and steer left or right when in flight. They had to use the less-than-inconspicuous giant beetles because other species are too weak to take off with the weight of the necessary antenna and brain and muscle electrodes."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Radio-Controlled Cyborg Beetles Become Reality

Comments Filter:
  • I for one (Score:4, Funny)

    by Johann Public (542327) <.alexhakkinen. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:16PM (#29613601) Homepage
    welcome our new remote control beetle overlords!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:20PM (#29613615)

      I am swarmed with the feeling that this will bug a lot of people.

    • by tinkertim (918832) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:49PM (#29613753) Homepage

      What, no lasers?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Fuger (795406)
        Didn't you RTFA? Lasers are too heavy due to power requirements. Marshmallow launchers [thinkgeek.com], on the other hand...
        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          All this talk of lasers and radios and whatnot, and no one else is freaked out by the fact that there's beatles the size of your goddamned hand? o_o

      • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Friday October 02, 2009 @07:17AM (#29615177) Homepage Journal
        Patience, grasshopper.

        Oh...I've said too much...
    • Because we control the remote control on you and TOLD you to say that. Insects. Get real. That was last decades tech. So passé.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      ... look forward to attending the Reunion Concert that we never had.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      As a cyborg myself (I have a device implanted in one of my eyes), [slashdot.org] I do NOT welcome my insect cyborg "bretheren". Yes, I'm a specist and proud of it. Human cyborgs RULE (or we did when cyborg Dick Cheney was VP).

      Down with the buggy cyborgs!

  • FTS:

    "They had to use the less-than-inconspicuous giant beetles because other species are too weak to take off with the weight of the necessary antenna and brain and muscle electrodes."

    So, as technology advances: smaller electronics, radio parts, electromechanical components, power source -> smaller state-of-the-art RC toy. How long until you can have your own, remote-controlled army of fruit flies? 5 years? 10? 20?

  • Name (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Large? For Beetles.
    Benevolent? Probably not.
    Cyborg? Check.
    I suggest we call these the Big Bad Beetleborgs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:28PM (#29613657)
    ... so I put a, oh fuck it.
  • FINALLY. (Score:4, Funny)

    by straponego (521991) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:28PM (#29613659)
    At last we can breathe a little easier, secure in the knowledge that flying cockroaches are watching over us at all times.
  • by Fuger (795406) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:30PM (#29613667)
    This is really cool, but there seem to be some serious limitations. (Yes, I know that's kind of the definition of "prototype.")

    "I'm sceptical about their ability to do surveillance for the following reason: no one has solved the power issue."

    If you can't monitor what they're doing without being in the same room, then the range is very small. On the other hand, if this could be scaled up to larger animals, perhaps the power would cease to be an issue. However, it does seem like the relative lack of sophistication present in these insects is what allows this control, in part.

    "It's not entirely clear how much control a beetle has over its own flight," Hedrick says. "If you've ever seen a beetle flying in the wild, they're not the most graceful insects."

    Still, if they can get the surveillance issue figured out, this could represent a significant advance is Search and Rescue -- use insects or small animals to access places that humans can't (collapsed buildings, landslides, etc.)

    • by JimboFBX (1097277) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:40PM (#29613723)
      What is amazing if you think about it is how far and fast insects can go with so little energy consumption. In contrast, a simple little radio...
    • by timeOday (582209)
      When I read about progress along these lines I always think about this story about Iran [msn.com], which resulted in mockery from all corners of the globe.
      • by plastbox (1577037)

        Oh. My. God.

        I see why people are spying on Iran, the picture at the bottom of the article.. It's the Emperor! *gasp*

    • by GradiusCVK (1017360) <originalcvk.gmail@com> on Friday October 02, 2009 @04:05AM (#29614629)

      if this could be scaled up to larger animals, perhaps the power would cease to be an issue

      I say we strap a diesel generator and a surveillance suite on an elephant. It's my understanding that even if somebody notices him in the room, they'll still act like they don't.

    • If you can't monitor what they're doing without being in the same room, then the range is very small. On the other hand, if this could be scaled up to larger animals, perhaps the power would cease to be an issue.

      Personally, something about surveillance tigers doesn't sit too well with me.

      • by russotto (537200)

        Personally, something about surveillance tigers doesn't sit too well with me.

        You're just an anti-Mac bigot.

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      if this could be scaled up to larger animals, perhaps the power would cease to be an issue.

      Sharks. Although then you've got to find power for the laser beam.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      If you can't monitor what they're doing without being in the same room, then the range is very small.

      I can't find a cite right now (too much bogus news clogging google) but I believe the American embassy in Russia was spied upon (audio) by bouncing a directed radio wave off of a strip of metal embedded in a piece of artwork hung in one of the offices.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Okay, here is a citation [spybusters.com]. There was a microphone and an antenna in there. With a little MEMS work, though, you could put the microphone on a minuscule chip and bond it into a PCB to which wires were attached, and probably get the whole thing down to the size of a SMT LED. How did I get marked troll anyway?

  • I wonder... (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:31PM (#29613669) Journal
    If this project will turn out better than "Acoustic Kitty" [wikipedia.org] did...

    We've always wanted to be a fly on the wall; but having your secret spy weapon get eaten by an insectivorous plant would be pretty embarrassing.
  • This is right out of The Fifth Element. Excellent!
  • Who knows? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tibia1 (1615959) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:43PM (#29613733)
    Maybe these things will be moving by themselves soon...
  • Old news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sepiraph (1162995) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:50PM (#29613759)
    The video was posted on March 07, 2008.
  • Palm as in palm of your hand, here I was thinking palm tree. That would certainly be "less-than-inconspicuous"!
  • beetles really creep me out, let me know when i can get a brain chip thingy for my dog so he will stop taking a shit on the grass and instead dump his load in the sandbox like hes supposed to
  • I wonder when I can buy myself one of these. It's only a matter of time before you can buy it in the Sharper Image.

  • Finally! (Score:4, Funny)

    by superdave80 (1226592) on Friday October 02, 2009 @12:04AM (#29613807)

    Radio-Controlled Cyborg Beetles Become Reality

    Well, it's about damn time. You know how long I've been waiting for this day?

    /wipes away a single tear

  • We're still decades (centuries? maybe, if there's roadblocks) away from being able to create a sense organ for radio and training an animal to follow commands received via it. Of course, then someone will want the communication to two way so you can see through the bug's eyes, etc. Before you know it you've equipped a social insect with a massive evolutionary advantage which it uses to form the most fearsome hive mind, flies into space and takes over the galaxy. Gah, then we have to flight bugs in space

  • Yes, where can I buy their mad songs on iTunes.

  • by chrismiceli (1639623) on Friday October 02, 2009 @01:05AM (#29614023)
    in Africa. Where else will giant African beatles blend in?!
  • The Berkeley team has apparently been taken over, conquered if you will, by a master race of giant radio-controlled cyborg beetles.

    It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive Berkeley men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain, there is no stopping them. The beetles will soon be here.

    And I, for one, welcome our new radio controlled cyborg beetles.

  • Prior Art (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) on Friday October 02, 2009 @01:20AM (#29614073)

    This was first done in the 5th Element when Zorg's assistant spies on the president. Obviously, according to IP law, DARPA owes the creators of the 5th Element $500 Trillion (in standard RIAA dollars).

  • You just can't interface beetles into a low-power ZigBee [wikipedia.org] mesh.
  • by BhaKi (1316335) on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:19AM (#29614275)
    It is only a matter of time before the US uses these robotic bees to spy on "evil" nations' activities.
    I just had an interesting thought. If the same research happened in Iran or N. Korea, then the western media would have, by now, successfully crafted false stories like "Iran prepares robotic spies for spying on US". It is very sad that we are not seeing stories like "US preparing to dispatch robotic bees to all evil parts of the world."
    • man they're already working on a pain-gun. Bug spies are really the least of my concerns.
    • Seriously, why do you have to live in a stupid bubble that says a total dictatorship backed up by concentration camps isn't evil? These countries aren't like, ho hum, the USA, where you call yourself oppressed because your daddy didn't give attention. These are countries where you call yourself oppressed because you said you were hungry and the 5 year plan said you had more food than ever, or you said that you were unhappy and Allah should provide.

      I'm so sick of hearing people put the USA on the same mora

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        In other words, "we're not as evil as them so we're not evil at all". Sorry, but any nation with secret police or laws requiring secret police, even if you call them "plainclothesmen" or "undercover agents", is a police state.

        Torturing prisoners is evil. I'm glad the present leader stopped the practice.

        A nation where a citizen can be arrested without charge on his own soil and detained indefinitely without trial (Jose Padilla) is NOT a free country.

        A country with "free speech zones" is NOT a free country.

        Ju

      • Granted, liberals are tearing all that down and replacing it with the sort of self indulgent crap that invariably leads to a sense of entitlement about property and ultimately a dictatorship class, but, they haven't been successful yet.

        Had me up until here, man... "liberals" have built this country as much as "conservatives" have...

      • by amplt1337 (707922)

        Granted, liberals are tearing all that down and replacing it with the sort of self indulgent crap that invariably leads to a sense of entitlement about property and ultimately a dictatorship class, but, they haven't been successful yet.

        Right. North Korea and Iran got where they are because of EVUL LIBRULS. Name one single society in which property entitlement from a progressively wealthier population led to a totalitarian dictatorship.

        Anyway, the GP was commenting about news media. Someone's come up with a creepy spying technology that involves 1) doing BIZARRE MIND CONTROL on living things (near as I can tell, site is /.'d) and 2) has significant anti-civil-libertarian implications. The GP pointed out, quite rightly, that the double-

    • > It is very sad that we are not seeing stories like "US preparing to dispatch
      > robotic bees to all evil parts of the world".

      I'm sure they're out there. You just aren't reading the right blogs. Don't you know that night vision goggles allow you to see through clothing?

  • Somehow I think George Berkeley would be somewhat disappointed to see his namesake directly manipulating living organisms for the purpose of spying on humans.

  • From what I've read they're many years away from perfecting this, it's too full of bugs.

  • Still waiting for the "omg. think of the children dept" and "omg terrorists are everywhere dept." to start wiring presumed dangerous people.

    Just think of the benefits, if anything bad happens the department can just push the big red button and every dangerous man in the country automatically stops whatever they are doing and walks to the detention camp/holding cell until the the dept. in charge have figured out who had done it.

    Brilliant! I can't wait for this system to get applied in a wider area than
  • ...look out! I lived in west Africa for many years and I'll never forget what it's like for one of those to hit the windshield while driving at night at 120Km/h. I was hoping to never see one again.

  • Beetles today, people tomorrow.
  • RADIO-CONTROLLED CYBORG BEETLES!
    RADIO-CONTROLLED CYBORG BEETLES!
    Beetles with some brain chips... BEETLE POWER!

    Sorry, I couldn't help myself. *makes a pitch to Warner Bros.*
  • I was afraid there was going to be stupid tether wire, but NO TETHER. Truly remote controlled this time.

  • Would you need an addbug to troubleshoot it?

  • Their control method seems very crude to me. They have no control over the bugs little brain at all. If you want it to take off, give it an electric jolt, and it will fly away. Like hitting cow with a stick. Sure, that works. If you want it to stop, give it a bigger jolt, and it will drop out of the air. Like hitting a someone over the head with a bigger stick. Left and right: shock one wing so it will twitch and not work properly for a moment while the other wing goes on, and voila, steering. This is not

  • Is it just me or does anyone else think messing with creatures in this way is off-the-scale barbaric and shouldn't be done whatever the reason?

    It really scares me that there's apprarently no limit to the depths governments and universities will sink in the name of money or whats laughably called 'defence' (read: to kill more people more efficiently).

    How far will mankind go towards the worst visions of the future before enough decent people say 'no more'?

  • China's Red Army are now increasing their food supply. This way China creates a shortage of beetles. Now beetles become so expensive, that it's no more efficient too use beetles for espionage.
  • This weaponized bio-technology will give a whole new meaning to assassin bugs [wikipedia.org].

We want to create puppets that pull their own strings. - Ann Marion

Working...