The US army is backing a project that allows a flying giant flower beetle to be remote controlled for surveillance purposes.
The "cyborg" beetle has implanted electrodes and a radio receiver on its back so that it can be wirelessly controlled.
Scientists at the University of California have developed a tiny rig that receives control signals from a nearby computer. Electrical signals delivered via the beetle's electrodes command the insect to take off, turn left or right, or hover in midflight.
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The research is funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It is envisaged the beetle could one day be used for surveillance purposes or for search-and-rescue missions.
The beetle's payload consists of an off-the-shelf microprocessor, a radio receiver, a battery attached to a custom-printed circuit board, and six electrodes implanted into the animals' optic lobes and flight muscles.
To be used for search-and-rescue missions, the insect would also need to carry a small camera and heat sensor.