- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
Military seeks to develop ‘insect cyborgs’
Question of the Day
The U.S. military, facing problems in its efforts to train insects or build robots that can mimic their flying abilities, now wants to develop “insect cyborgs” that can go where troops cannot.
The Pentagon is seeking applications from researchers to help them develop technology that can be implanted into living insects to control their movement and transmit video or other sensory data back to their handlers.
In an announcement posted on government Web sites last week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, says it is seeking “innovative proposals to develop technology to create insect cyborgs,” by implanting tiny devices into insect bodies while the animals are in their pupal stage.
As an insect metamorphoses from a larva to an adult, the solicitation notice says, its “body goes through a renewal process that can heal wounds and reposition internal organs around foreign objects, including tiny [mechanical] structures that might be present.”
The goal is to create technology that can achieve “the delivery of an insect within five meters of a specific target … using electronic remote control, and/or global positioning system. … In conjunction with delivery, the insect must remain stationary either indefinitely or until otherwise instructed [and] must also be able to transmit data from [Department of Defense] relevant sensors … [including] gas sensors, microphones, video, etc.”
The agency says it has encountered challenges in its efforts to train insects to detect explosives or other chemical compounds, and to mimic their flight and movement patterns using small robots.
Several years ago, DARPA began a $3 million project to train honeybees to find land mines. The solicitation last week said that did not succeed.
“These activities have highlighted key challenges involving behavioral and chemical control of insects. … Instinctive behaviors for feeding and mating — and also for responding to temperature changes — prevented them from performing reliably,” it says.
As far as the development of purely robotic or mechanical aircraft — so-called micro- or nano-unmanned aerial vehicles — the solicitation says that developing energy sources both powerful and light enough poses “a key technical challenge.”
Both sets of challenges “might be effectively overcome” by the development of insect cyborgs, the solicitation said.
The devices that DARPA wants to implant are Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems, or MEMS. MEMS technology uses tiny silicon wafers like those used as the basis for computer microchips. But instead of merely laying circuits, MEMS technology can cut and shape the silicon, turning the chip into a microscopic mechanical device.
The solicitation envisages the implanted device as a “platform” onto which “various microsystem payloads can be mounted … with the goal of controlling insect locomotion, sens[ing] local environment, and scaveng[ing] power.”
Implanting the devices during pupation is key, the document said, because “the insects are immobile and can be manipulated without interference from instinctive motion.”
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Army's 3-D printed bombs to create 'a whole new universe' of lethal capabilities
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- GOP leaders delay border bill, leave Obama in control
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Colorado poll shows women tuning out Democrats' 'war on women' strategy
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world