Cyborg DragonflEye At Your Command

DragonflEye is a genetically-modified dragonfly that carries an implanted backpack to interface with its nervous system. So you can control it, of course.


(DragonflEye cyborg insect video)

DragonflEye consists of a living, slightly modified dragonfly that carries a small backpack of electronics. The backpack interfaces directly with the dragonfly’s nervous system to control it, and uses tiny solar panels to harvest enough energy to power itself without the need for batteries.

Draper showed us a nifty looking mock-up of what the system might look like a few months ago, but today, they’ve posted the first video of DragonflEye taking to the air.

The unique thing about DragonflEye (relative to other cyborg insects) is that it doesn’t rely on spoofing the insect’s sensors or controlling its muscles, but instead uses optical electrodes to inject steering commands directly into its nervous system, which has been genetically tweaked to accept them. This means that the dragonfly can be controlled to fly where you want, without sacrificing the built-in flight skills that make insects the envy of all other robotic micro air vehicles.

The idea for remote-controlled insects derives from a 1990 science fiction novel by Thomas A. Easton. See the Roachster from Sparrowhawk.

However, I was thinking of the mention of this idea in the John Twelve Hawks book The Golden City; this shows you how these cyborg insects will be used in the near future.

Doyle swiveled in his chair, reached up to a shelf, and took down a clear plastic box that held a dragonfly clinging to a twig... The dragonfly had been turned into something called a HIMEMS... Ramirez and the others simply called them "robobugs."

Philip K. Dick must be credited with the commercial flies from his 1966 novel The Simulacra; I'd also add Jeff Noon's blurbflies from his 2000 novel Nymphomation.

Via IEEE.

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