Japanese researchers say that turning beetles into an army of cyborg insects could be useful in a variety of ways.
Digital Nature Group from Tsukuba University in Japan is working on a “computing age consisting of a perfect combination of computing resources and non-computational resources.” By “computational resources” is meant the use of the natural world, which includes, for better or worse, insects.
On a small scale, the capabilities of insects far exceed the capabilities of robots. I understand. And I also understood that the transformation of beetles intoan army of cyborg insects it could be useful in a variety of ways.
But what is really uncomfortable is the idea that “in the future, they will appear out of nowhere without us realizing it, fulfilling their tasks and then hiding.” In other words, we will have cyborg beetles hiding all over the house all the time.
What does it mean to create cyborg beetles and how does it help you?
Remote control of beetles is not a new idea and is quite simple. By stimulating the beetle’s left or right antenna nerves, you can make them think they are facing something and turn them in the opposite direction.
Add wireless connectivity, some trusty markers, an aerial camera system and a bunch of cyborg beetles and you have a sturdy swarm that can collaborate on tasks.
Researchers suggest that the swarm could be used as a display – turning each beetle into a pixel – to carry objects or draw things. There are also some mentions of “input or haptic interfaces or an audio device”.
There are many other robotic platforms that can perform what you see these cyborg beetles doing, but according to the researchers, the reason they used beetles is that you can take advantage of their impressive robustness, efficiency, high power-to-weight ratio and mobility.
Cyborg beetles can feed on their own, which means that whenever you don’t need swarms to perform a task, you can turn off the control system and let them run to find food. And when you need them again, you can start the control system and see how your swarm of cyborg beetles reassembles throughout the house. A wonder, isn’t it?
If we keep talking about hacking the minds of beetles, it would be a shame not to mention other projects of project leader Yuga Tsukuda.
These include a cockroach-powered watch or beetle makeup. The researchers describe the latter project as an “attempt to use beetles for makeup by gluing them to the face.” They stick electrodes on the beetles to make them move their legs when electrical stimulation is applied.