Perhaps you are not particularly worried about the idea of remote-controlled insects spying on you, on behalf of the Pentagon. Darpa-funded researchers at the University of California, Berkeley would like to disabuse you of that notion. They've succeeded in "controlling a live rhinoceros beetle by radio," Tech-On reports.
Researchers hooked a series of six electrodes up to the brain and muscles of the insect. Then, during a demonstration at the MEMS 2009 academic conference in Sorrento, Italy, "they equipped the beetle with a module incorporating a circuit to send signals to the electrodes, wireless circuit, microcontroller and battery. The university has so far succeeded in several experiments of electrically controlling insects, but it used a radio control system this time."
The researchers used rhinoceros beetles in this experiment because they can carry a weight of up to 3 [grams]. And another reason is that they look cool, according to the university.
It's one of a number of Darpa-backed experiments, to develop insect spies. The University of Michigan has its own cyborg beetles. University of Georgia researchers are implanting mini-machines into larval moths, so they can live to a ripe, old, remote-controlled age. Then there's the idea to use sex-starved insects to follow bank robbers. Seriously.
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