Electrodes were used to control the beetle’s movements.
A cross between a robot and a beetle, the cybernetic insect can be commanded to walk or run on demand.
Brain-computer interfaces have become something of a hot topic in recent years and now scientists at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have taken this concept in a slightly different direction by turning a common African beetle in to a remote-controlled cybernetic organism.
To accomplish this, the researchers implanted electrodes in to each of the beetle’s legs which, when stimulated with an electrical signal, could command the insect to move, speed up or slow down.
“We have constructed an insect-computer hybrid legged robot using a living beetle,” they wrote.
“Different muscles were individually stimulated in a predefined sequence by a microcontroller. By varying the duration of the stimulation sequences, we successfully controlled the step frequency hence the beetle’s walking speed.”
Once perfected, cyborg beetles could eventually be used as miniature drones that could fly over and search difficult terrain. It might even be possible for intelligence agencies to use them as spies.
“To the best of our knowledge, this paper presents the first demonstration of living insect locomotion control with a user-adjustable walking gait, step length and walking speed,” the team wrote.
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