HI-MEMS: Cyborg Beetle Microsystem

The HI-MEMS (Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) program instituted by DARPA is beginning to bear fruit. The University of Michigan team has successfully created a cyborg unicorn beetle microsystem.


(UM Cyborg Beetle Microsystem)

The research was showcased at MEMS 2008, an international academic conference on MEMS that took place from January 13-17 in Tucson, AZ. The embedded probe has four electrodes. One is implanted in the control region of the brain, with two others being placed in the right and left muscles that move the wings. The cyborg beetle is able to take off and land, turn left or right and demonstrate a number of other flight control behaviors.

HI-MEMS is a DARPA program initiated by Program Manager Dr. Amit Lal.

The HI-MEMS program is aimed at developing tightly coupled machine-insect interfaces by placing micro-mechanical systems inside the insects during the early stages of metamorphosis. These early stages include the caterpillar and the pupae stages. Since a majority of the tissue development in insects occurs in the later stages of metamorphosis, the renewed tissue growth around the MEMS will tend to heal, and form a reliable and stable tissue-machine interface. The goal of the MEMS, inside the insects, will be to control the locomotion by obtaining motion trajectories either from GPS coordinates, or using RF, optical, ultrasonic signals based remote control.


(UM Cyborg Beetle summary of implant survival )

Dr. Lal got the idea for remote-controlled insects from the 1990 science fiction novel Sparrowhawk, by Thomas A. Easton. Dr. Easton, a professor of science at Thomas College. In the novel, he writes about genetically engineered animals that are greatly enlarged, and then outfitted with implanted control structures.

"There's the brain, the spinal chord, the motor centers. A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain." She explained how the controller, a computer, translated movements of the tiller or control yoke and the throttle and brake pedals into electrical signals and routed them as appropriate to the jets or the genimal's motor centers, triggering the genimal's own nervous system into commanding its muscles to serve the driver. All the necessary programming was built into the hardware...
(Read more about the Roachster)

The final milestone at the end of phase three of the HI-MEMS project is flying a cyborg insect to within five meters of a specific target starting at a distance of one hundred meters. Researchers may use remote control or automated systems using global positioning system (GPS). If a research team passes this test successfully, then DARPA can begin breeding in earnest. As the pictures below demonstrate, the cyborg beetle is getting close to meeting the spec.


(UM Cyborg Beetle Microsystem in flight)

Electrical stimulation of wing muscles on either side initiates a turn. Beetles mounted on a long string (10 cm) were programmed with a continuous sequence of left, pause, right, pause instructions; each instruction lasted two seconds. (a) left flight muscle stimulation generates a right turn, followed by (b) a pause during which the beetle zigs and zags, followed by (c) right muscle stimulation which generates a left turn. Each photograph consists of ten frames; frames were taken every 0.2 seconds.
The vision of HI-MEMS - insect swarms with various sorts of different embedded MEMS sensors (like video cameras, audio microphones and chemical sniffers)could penetrate enemy territory in swarms. The HI-MEMS swarms could then perform reconnaissance missions beyond the capabilities of bulky human soldiers.

Update 30-Sep-2011: Fans of Philip K. Dick will not be surprised to learn that he anticipated this idea in 1964 in his novel Lies, Inc.. See the reference for the housefly monitor. End update.

Learn more about HI-MEMS (Hybrid Insect Micro-Electrico-Mechanical Systems Sought By DARPA; additional work reviewed at HI-MEMS: Control Circuits Embedded In Pupal Stage Successfully. Via Robot Watch. See also this informative article Darpa hatches plan for insect cyborgs to fly reconnaissance.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/27/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Colloidal Quantum Dots Make Spray-On Solar Cells Possible
'Black Power... you spray it on.'- Larry Niven, 1995

Race Into The Future With Bionic Boots
'The tremendous loping strides afforded by such devices... '- Neal Stephenson, 1995.

Lightpaper Way Thinner Than OLED
'You have this on Siwenna?'- Isaac Asimov, 1952.

DARPA Wants Airborne Launch Facility For Drones
This was tried with recon craft in WWII.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Smart Window Tints, Powers Itself
'The polawindow, which he tuned to clear transmission.'

A Basic Income TED Talk
'They de-emphasized what lack of work would do to Mr. Everyman'

What Can Magic Leap Expect From New 'Chief Futurist' Neal Stephenson?
'The goggles throw a light, smoky haze across his eyes...'

Should SETI Talk To Molecular Cloud Barnard 68?
'I myself am building basic chemicals at about 10,000,000,000 times the rate at which building is occurring on the whole ... surface of your planet.'

LikeAGlove Smart Garment Knows Your Size
'The tailor set moving a mechanism...'

EXACTO Bullets Change Course In Mid-Air
'This little weapon ejects a rather ingenious missile...'

Button-Pushing Robots Have Taken Our Jobs, Thankfully
'The ten forked ends of each arm commenced a rattling pressing of the buttons.'

Puls 'Smart Watch' Replaces Your Cell Phone
Even before Dick Tracy, there were Ideas about this.

Small Molecule Walker Takes First Steps
'The bits were in motion.'

US Navy Laser Ready For Use
Fifty years from cartoon to reality.

Fast Lightweight Autonomy Indoor Drones For DARPA
'the Scarab buzzed into the great workroom... and sought the security of a shadowed corner.'

Ninebot One Self-Balancing Wheel
'It had been a long time since the Chief Engineer had ridden one of these silly-looking little vehicles...'

FuturICT Knowledge Accelerator And Psychohistory
'The reactions of human conglomerates to fixed social and economic stimuli...'

Stellar Navigation Based On Network Analysis
'We are a traveling people. We need a travel station here.'

New 'Smart-Skin' Senses Pressure, Humidity, Heat
'You can even sense with your fingertips...'

Mimo Baby Monitor
'In every diaper there is a fine copper wire.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.