NTU x UC Berkeley Remote Controlled Cyborg Beetle

Cyborg Beetles Could Join Cyborg Dragonfly In Saving Lives In Future

Remember the cyborg dragonfly developed by researchers at Draper and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t the first. But really, are we even surprised? Cybernetic is like the next (inevitable) evolution of robotics. Anyways, researchers over at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, together with University of California Berkeley, has joined forces to developed a cyborg beetle whose flight can be controlled remotely by humans. I know how it sounds like. It sounds rather creepy (because of spying and stuff), but despite so, cyborg technology could be the answer to the future of search and rescue operations.

We try not to think about the potential use in military, so lets just bathe in the fantasy that this is a perfect world and such inventions won’t be utilize for anything other than peaceful and meaningful missions. The remote controlled cyborg beetle was announced nearly two years ago which was well ahead of the DragonflEye we saw a couple of months ago. The researchers of the cyborg beetle managed to use electricity to make the insect’s muscles moved according to the human controller’s bidding. As expected from such ‘cyborg’ creature, a tiny backpack containing microprocessor and power source is strapped to the beetles back with beeswax.

Electrodes from the microprocessor are inserted into the beetle’s optic lobes and flight muscles to achieve interaction while a receiver allows input from a human controller to be conveyed to gain control over the flight muscle and thus, achieving direction change. The benefit is obvious here. Like the cyborg dragonfly, there’s no flight motor required; the insect itself can maintain flight stability and there’s no need for collision avoidance system either, because the itself already knows not to knock into objects. Therefore, it leaves minimal human intervention while achieving the objective for, say, maneuvering the tiny creature to conduct search and rescue. But that, of course, will need to couple with other miniaturized technologies such as imaging and possibly, other sensors.

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Just imagine a bunch of these cyborg beetles making their way into crevices of a collapsed building and sniffing out for survivors trapped within. Minimal control also means efficient use of battery power which has been a long-standing woes of modern day drones. Since it consumes minimal amount of energy, this means that, in future, energy scavenged from ambient radio waves may just be enough to keep these cyborg rescuers in action almost indefinitely. Well, what do we know? It kind of sounds like another Dan Brown’s novels prediction soon to come true.

Source and image: Motherboard.