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Robotics Biotech The Military

Radio-Controlled Cyborg Beetles Become Reality 150

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."
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Radio-Controlled Cyborg Beetles Become Reality

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  • 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 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."
  • Re:I for one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr2cents ( 323101 ) on Friday October 02, 2009 @04:16AM (#29614679)

    Me too. Any country that spends more on weapons than on education should be called a developing nation.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Friday October 02, 2009 @06:10AM (#29614993) Homepage Journal

    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 moral ground as places like that. We aren't like that, and we aren't like that because we have people that do the work of keeping us not like that. There's cultural institutions that have been put in place, educational traditions. 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.

  • Re:I for one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gravitron 5000 ( 1621683 ) on Friday October 02, 2009 @08:35AM (#29615483)

    Why cant we do this to politicos and lawyers then?

    For politicos, it's because they would need a brain to attach the electrodes to.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson