Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bionic Bugs

In the future that fly that just buzzed past an enemy soldiers nose might not exactly be a fly at all. DARPA's HI-MEMS Program looks to create a hybrid, part insect part machine for surveillance. From the DARPA website:

The HI-MEMS program is aimed at developing tightly coupled machine-insect interfaces by placing micro-mechanical systems inside the insects during the early stages of metamorphosis. These early stages include the caterpillar and the pupae stages. Since a majority of the tissue development in insects occurs in the later stages of metamorphosis, the renewed tissue growth around the MEMS will tend to heal, and form a reliable and stable tissue-machine interface. The goal of the MEMS, inside the insects, will be to control the locomotion by obtaining motion trajectories either from GPS coordinates, or using RF, optical, ultrasonic signals based remote control. The control of locomotion will be investigated using several approaches. These include direct electrical muscle excitation, electrical stimulation of neurons, projection of ultrasonic pulses simulating bats, projection of pheromones, electromechanical stimulation of insect sensory cells, and presentation of optical cues with micro-optical visual presentation. The intimate control of insects with embedded microsystems will enable insect cyborgs, which could carry one or more sensors, such as a microphone or a gas sensor, to relay back information gathered from the target destination.

Cool, but the prospect is likely to open up a rather hefty can of worms in the Big Brother is Watching sense. DARPA technological breakthroughs have a tendency to flow down to both law enforcement and public use. Imagine being suspicious of every fly that buzzes by your head.

Image via Time.