The US military has long been working on cyborg soldiers, with computer chips. Now, experts from Washington University thought of anti-explosive, cyborg locusts, deemed more ethical. Researchers believe that locusts, which have a heightened sense of smell, could be used for detecting explosives, if fitted with microchips, creating a cyborg insect.
Chief engineers from the University have secured a three-year grant of over $ 750,000 from the US Navy, to continue working on developing cyborg locusts. The team of experts has studied the advanced locusts smell mechanism. They found that these insects are capable of detecting certain scents, even if they are mixed with other surrounding smells.
One of the chief engineers, Raman Baranidharan stated that the team thought of taking advantage of nature’s solution, instead of re-inventing the wheel. He believes that locusts can do better at detecting bombs than robots which are created for the same purpose.
There are a lot fewer sensors on bomb detection devices, compared to the hundreds of thousands of sensors of different types which can be found in the antennae of locusts. In order to make these bio-tech detectors, engineers will put electrodes into the insects’ brain so that they can read the electrical activity passing through the antennae.
The team will also fit the locusts with a miniature backpack to transmit information collected by the antennae. The receiver will light up red when explosives are found and green if the area is clear.
What is more, the experts are planning to create some sort of solar powered cyborgs, by fitting the bugs with a special silk that could convert light into heat so that they will function much like drones. The prototype of the cyborg locust will be tested within a year, and the marketable form will be underway in approximately two years.
These cyborg insects could be sent into theaters of war, to sniff out explosives. They may also be used for bomb-threats, to detect and defuse bombs. There are many other practical uses of these robot locusts: drug detection, illegal substance detection or methane detection.
This isn’t the first time engineers think of creating cyborgs. The army is apparently working on a human cyborg project, which will fit future soldiers with brain-computer chips to enhance their performance. Controversial as they may be, the army and universities are going ahead with this type of research.
Image Source- Wikipedia