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Bionic Beetle

April 14, 2010


The ability to control a flying insect as if it was a remote-controlled airplane – It sounds impossible. However, researchers at at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a device which will do just that. The team, headed by Michel Maharbiz, have successfully embedded microelectromechanical systems sensors in the body of a beetle.

The project, which has been funded by an agency of the United States Department of Defense, has resulted in the creation of implantations which hijack control of the beetle’s motor functions. The giant beetle wears an electronic backpack, which is implanted in the early stages of growth.

According to the research group, the device works through the implantation of  “several neural electrodes into the beetle’s  nervous and muscular systems…A microcontroller and a microbattery are mounted on the beetle dorsal thorax. The microcontroller transfers appropriate electrical signals via the implanted electrodes. This cyborg beetle system actually makes it possible for us to perform initiation, cessation, elevation and left/right turns of the beetle flight”. In layman’s terms, the borg beetle’s wings and flight can be controlled through the delivery of pulses to the brain.

What do you think of the world’s new Robobug?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. pansquared permalink
    April 14, 2010 10:49 pm

    You know those flying spinning heat seeking razor things from Half Life 2?

    (Runs away screaming)

  2. April 14, 2010 11:04 pm

    Haha. I believe you mean the manhack?
    I want to see them fly this:

    • pansquared permalink
      April 15, 2010 12:33 am

      In regards to the linked image: THANKS ALOT YOU CAN JUST ROCK ME TO SLEEP TONIGHT.
      Seriously though, I think this is a great step forward in robotics, it will add to our understanding of “neural” functions and integrating them with micro-computing.

      I’m sure this technology has many different implications (not the least of which military), but my hope is to someday have a pet cyborg gerbil.

      Also, I laughed really hard at the terminator bug drawing 😀

  3. April 15, 2010 7:49 am

    What will they think of next? Think it’s really cool, but also kind of feel sorry for the beetle. I know I’m an idiot, particularly as I’m the first one to swat any flies/insects away if they buzz around me.

  4. April 16, 2010 10:40 am

    Love this one:
    It might save me 20 quid I pay for Virgin TV 😉

  5. April 18, 2010 7:53 pm

    @olive I feel a little sorry for the beetle too! It’s looking a little dejected in the photo.

    @pansquared Glad you liked my drawing. Cyborg gerbil! Imagine manipulating its motor functions to do moves like this:

    @Ronan Great link!

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