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DARPA Creates Remote Controlled Insects

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the bug-with-a-bug dept.

The Military 101

EmagGeek writes "Attempts by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to create cybernetic insects (hybrids of biological and electronic 'bugs') have yielded ultra-low power radios to control the bugs' flight and a method of powering those circuits by harvesting energy, according to research that will be reported this week at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference. 'Electrodes and a control chip are inserted into a moth during its pupal stage. When the moth emerges the electrodes stimulate its muscles to control its flight. I expect a run on bug zappers any day."

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101 comments

I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (5, Funny)

relikx (1266746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936239)

If you sign up now you won't get hive duty and can assist as a pollinator.

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (3, Insightful)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936299)

This sounds far too inexpensive to trust our Fearless Leaders with. The only thing that has saved us so far is the cost of deployment.

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (0, Offtopic)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936641)

You underestimate the capacity of government contractors to make a cheap item expensive.

You also seem to underestimate the capacity of the US government to simply raise taxes when oppressing those very taxpayers is outside the current budget.

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26937945)

"You really think these guys spend $1500 on a hammer?"

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (2, Funny)

Denihil (1208200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26938113)

No, i think the taxpayers spend $1500 on a hammer. Sucks for them! Oh wait....dammit.

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (1)

endymion.nz (1093595) | more than 5 years ago | (#26944259)

A hammer is never just a hammer when it is bought by the military. It is a hammer, enough replacement hammers for the projected life of the hammer, training to use those hammers, etc etc.

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26940269)

pfff...no way!

I think it's more like $15,000

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26936385)

Isn't it the other way around? Seeing how the cybernetic stuff is used for us to control them?

I, for one, hope the insects welcome us as their new overlords.

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (1)

relikx (1266746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936495)

Point taken unless Klax'nor is at the other end of the remote and they start swarming.

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936513)

Well, I for one, welcome our new^H^H^Hold dupe posting editors [slashdot.org] .

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (3, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936669)

Hm, not sure how this is a dup? Original article said what BAE systems were working on in the UK (but did not even have a working prototype of); this article says what DARPA and Boyce are working on in the US (but also no working prototype).

Too, DARPA's project seems to be focused on combining bio and electronic/mechanical systems, while BAE's was basically a robot.

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26942077)

On behalf of English-speaking readers everywhere, I ask you to PLEASE refrain from abbreviating "duplicate" by using the word "dup." You may pronounce it "doop" but the rest of us can't help but hear the little reading voice in our heads say "dhupp!" The sheer glee with which it utters the errant syllable is enough to drive one mad. I feel dumber for having allowed it to traverse my neural pathways. The "e" is silent, but that doesn't make it unimportant.

Thank you.

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26945191)

do you forget to take your pills? it must be horrible be like you

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26946383)

No. If I take the pills, giant insects peer at me through my windows at night. The pills must change my body chemistry and attract them. At least, that's what I thought at first. Now I'm pretty sure that they're mutated chip-implanted insect overlords from Homeland Security.

Re:I, for one, welcome our new Insect Overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26939697)

i've heard that the project is delayed
due to a severe bug.

I saw this in a B movie on the sci-fi channel. (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936255)

I saw this in a B movie on the sci-fi channel.

Re:I saw this in a B movie on the sci-fi channel. (1)

ink (4325) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936335)

That was a miniseries called Charlie Jade [wikipedia.org] . Not the best acting, and they fucked the story up a bit -- but I still enjoyed it.

Re:I saw this in a B movie on the sci-fi channel. (3, Funny)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936449)

I saw a bugged cockroach in Fifth Element too.
I hope one day they will be able to reconstruct a person from fragment DNA too :)

Re:I saw this in a B movie on the sci-fi channel. (3, Interesting)

cHALiTO (101461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936523)

I hope they can reconstruct my own personal Milla Jovovich from fragment DNA :)

Re:I saw this in a B movie on the sci-fi channel. (0, Offtopic)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936731)

I hope they can reconstruct my own personal Milla Jovovich from fragment DNA :)

How are you going to get your hands on her her DNA?

Re:I saw this in a B movie on the sci-fi channel. (2, Funny)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936733)

The problem is she would probably clone me from a fragment of my DNA and leave you.</joke>

Re:I saw this in a B movie on the sci-fi channel. (1, Redundant)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936483)

I recall a remote-controlled cockroach in this movie... [imdb.com]

Kind of gives new meaning to the "this room is bugged" cliche.

Re:I saw this in a B movie on the sci-fi channel. (2, Funny)

ijakings (982830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26937399)

I remember something similar sounding in Time Crisis 4, which incase anyone was wondering is the worst time crisis ive ever seen.

I know you arent, but I dont care.

Bugs? (3, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936271)

Queue avalanche of "debugging" jokes in 4... 3... 2...

Re:Bugs? (3, Funny)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936585)

1... 0... -1... -2... -3...

oops, sorry the damn while loop was never told to break at 0, looks like it will just have to wait till CTRL+C!

Re:Bugs? (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936637)

... -4... 1... -14... 23... 5.

Re:Bugs? The way SOMe programmers "think", count- (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26946399)

downs would be based on a reverse sort of a list of possible seconds:

20
201
202
203...
19
198
197
196...
13..
12..
11
102
103
104...
  and if the Enterprise computer did this shit, the Self-Destruct Sequence would never finish in time...

As for the bugs, i say set up a bug detector, and then spray the room. They may be cybernetic, but unless their lungs and blood are synthetic and don't react with/to aerosols...

Even better, put soap and water in a bottle... Then, when the fucking bugs/flies fly around, nail them in the wings. No need for a perfect bullseye. Just goop up their wings and they go... "Won't fly no mo". then step on their asses, or even better, mail them to electronics labs, or overseas to other governments... wait, might neet ITARS letters and other export/agent/proxy signatures...

Local Bonus: No toxins in the air.

Alternatively, periodically laquer the space suspected of these buggers. Preserve them...

Re:Bugs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26940327)

It's cue, JACKASS!

It hasn't happened!! (5, Insightful)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936289)

What a waste of time. They are presenting papers about what their research goals are. They haven't actually done it yet.

There are other people with research goals to find a cure for cancer....but that's not news.

Re:It hasn't happened!! (3, Interesting)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936429)

> Re:It hasn't happened!!
Citation Needed.

FTA:

Boyce Thompson Institute ... presented progress.. describing silicon neural interfaces for gas sensors that were inserted into insects during the pupal phase. ... Researchers led by DARPA contractor MIT will present a low-power ultrawide-band radio, a digital baseband processor, and a piezoelectric energy-harvesting system that scavenges power from vibrations.

I didn't find a more specific article, but it sounds to me like they've got some working hardware they're going to demo. If I'm reading it wrong, I'd appreciate a better link.

Re:It hasn't happened!! (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936469)

They are presenting papers about what their research goals are. They haven't actually done it yet.

Welcome to academia. Have a nice stay.

Re:It hasn't happened!! (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26938561)

Yeah let's scrap all research that doesn't have to do with cancer. Great idea.

potential application: (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936389)

they should outfit their zombie remote control insects with some sort of nanobot syringe that injects enemy troops with some sort of bioweapon, such as an intracellular parasite genetically attuned to weaken enemy troops and render them unable to fight

oh, wait...

Re:potential application: (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26937995)

If they ever do implement such a crazy scheme, I bet they codename it "Bad Air" or something.

countermeasures? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26936393)

I have a batch of Made-In-USA cyber-bats for sale to combat this threat. Buy American!

Can I Get One for Me? (2, Funny)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936409)

Can I get one of these things to take my lazy butt down to the gym in the morning?

Re:Can I Get One for Me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26936487)

Careful what you ask for...

How will they exploit this against the people? (0, Troll)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936465)

You know no good can come of it.

FUCK DARPA!

Banish the DHS!

Why do we need a DOD and DHS?

WE DON'T!

Re:How will they exploit this against the people? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26937481)

It's easy to call somebody a troll when you have mod points, but it's even easier than that to blindly accept everything you're told.

FUCK YOU, YOU CORN PONE FAGGOT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26937567)

n/t

This gives a whole new meaning... (2, Funny)

spinlight (1152137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936581)

... to the act of filing a "Bug Report".
"What did the bugs report today?"
"Don't ask me, it was filed in the bug report."
"Have the bugs reported?"
"Not yet, but they'll be buzzing the tower in a few minutes."

Shark Money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26936639)

from TFA...

Jelle Atema, a biologist at Boston University and at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, was also funded by DARPA in 2005 to research steering sharks with similar neural implants. Atema says that while he applauds the HI-MEMS project for its technical ambition and engineering virtuosity, he is concerned about its ultimate biological feasibility:

I have a feeling he's just "concerned" because he wants money to put lasers on his sharks...

Yup (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26936643)

I can see a huge army of very little soldiers... Well, d'uh! Everything USA gets its hands on will be turned into weapons.

So then. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936665)

do we know what fucked up mutations these stuff may eventually bring ?
 
what if a harmful mutation starts to breed like there's no tomorrow ? WHO will fix it ?

Re:So then. (1)

rahuja (751005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936765)

Nope, I don't think WHO (World Health Organization) will fix it.

Oh, you meant, who will fix it. Nevermind then.

Re:So then. (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936973)

It's an implanted device. It can't mutate.

You might as well wonder what will happen if you cell phone mutates.

Cellphones mutating? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26937613)

Re:Cellphones mutating? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26938043)

That has to be one of the coolest things I've seen on youtube in a long while.

Back on topic, in answer to "what if a harmful mutation starts to breed like there's no tomorrow ?" - "breeding like there's no tomorrow" is what most living creatures do, especially the small ones such as mice, rats, bugs, bacteria (HALP NANOBOTS), and 12-year-old English boys.

holy cow (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26938403)

the device is not going to mutate. the INSECT will. you are introducing an unnatural element into the very body of a living organism.

At mere $3,000,000 per bug... (5, Funny)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936667)

At mere $3,000,000 per bug our government will create swarms of moths to charge into the windshields of Taliban truckers and irk the crap out of them.

Re:At mere $3,000,000 per bug... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936757)

At mere $3,000,000 per bug our government will create swarms of moths to charge into the windshields of Taliban truckers and irk the crap out of them.

No they will take up residence in Osama's beard.

Re:At mere $3,000,000 per bug... (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 5 years ago | (#26941995)

No, those are the $5,000,000 fleas. The $3,000,000 moths are just prototypes.

Timeliness (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936681)

ding to research that will be reported this week at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference

Nice future tense, there. The fact that ISSCC was last week -- ten days ago -- shouldn't be allowed to interfere with anyone's plans to attend.

Moses claims prior art . . . (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936797)

. . . didn't he have swarms of 'dem critters? Sicked 'em on the Ancient Egyptians, and stuff. Since Moses was a meticulous man, he probably kept the blueprints for his remote controlled insects in a safe place. All we need to do is find the Ark of the Covenant; the plans are probably in there.

Or have the patents belonging to biblical leaders expired already?

And if you need God to power the insects, that might be a bit of a problem. Only CERN has that much energy at their disposal.

DARPA Creates Remote Controlled PEOPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26936839)

Electrodes and a control chip are inserted into a FOETUS during its embryonic stage. When the baby emerges...

I think I saw this before (2, Funny)

mahohmei (540475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936877)

This was in an episode of the 1960s spy comedy "Get Smart", where Max was shown their new, multimillion-dollar insect microphone, and he destroyed it by swatting it with a newspaper. Repeated in the 2008 movie when The Rock kills the bug with his hand.

I could never do that research in my house. "Look honey, this is my new remote controlled..." MEOW! *swat* *nom nom nom*

Re:I think I saw this before (1)

Viraptor (898832) | more than 5 years ago | (#26937125)

I could never do that research in my house. "Look honey, this is my new remote controlled..." MEOW! *swat* *nom nom nom*

A wife that goes "MEOW" and eats bugs would really disturb me. But if you like that...

Re:I think I saw this before (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 5 years ago | (#26942031)

A wife that goes "MEOW" and eats bugs would really disturb me. But if you like that...

She can has cheeseburger?

The good news is... (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 5 years ago | (#26936901)

...they can control the bugs' muscles, thus making them fly.

The bad news is, they have to push the button dozens of time per second.

Still can't resist the sex... (4, Funny)

7Prime (871679) | more than 5 years ago | (#26937019)

He cites some limitations for insects, including a tendency for moths to approach light sources (the proverbial flames) and a powerful sex pheromone response that could override attempts at remote electronic control. "Pheromones are incredibly powerful," he says.

Even billions of dollars in US military funding can't keep a moth from getting laid.

Re:Still can't resist the sex... (3, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#26937445)

On the other hand, Slashdot can accomplish the same for millions of nerds with no government funding at all!

Re:Still can't resist the sex... (2, Informative)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26937723)

The whole moths-flying-at-light sources isn't about mating, it's a malfunction of their navigation methods.

This has been achieved... here are some videos. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26937497)

One group of researchers doing this sort of control of moths:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP9ZA8dUU5g&NR=1

Another group that does metabolic research of moths to see how much they can carry and how long they can fly for:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFKEWDfDO1A

Why Moths? (2, Interesting)

Narnie (1349029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26938473)

Why the hell are they using moths? If they want to weaponize insects, they should pick something like the honey bee. You only have to control one, make it sting your target, and then the rest of the hive will defensively respond to the sting alarm pheromones.

Or maybe pick a cockroach. Sure they don't do much, but they should be able to survive the nuclear holocaust.

Or pick a social insect like the ant and have it lay a "food here" trail to your enemy's food stockpiles. You control a few hundred ants and manipulate the actions of whole colonies. I think that controlling moths posses a "that's neato" aspect, but controlling a social insect could yield more interesting results.

Re:Why Moths? (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26939163)

You could use the moth as a spy device. Of course that presumes that you can manage to attach audio and/or video bugs to the moth without weighting him down.

Re:Why Moths? (1)

Narnie (1349029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26939515)

you could do the same with a wasp or an ant. Ants can carry many times their weight. And from the article, moths still have the tendency to go "towards the light" thus overriding the RC signals.

Old story I read... (1)

atraintocry (1183485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26938595)

When I was in grade school we read a short story that featured a sentient cloud of bugs or nano-bots. Maybe they assembled into a human shape, but I don't remember.

The protagonist was at a station on a colonized planet or moon. I think the it revolved around a young boy and girl. Most likely the story was part of one of those hardcover literature anthologies that grade schoolers use. I thought it was a cool story but some of the stuff in those is pretty low-rent and I've mostly given up hope of pinning it down.

I want to say it was Asimov but I could just be remembering some actual Asimov that we read another time (one of his essays). I know that's all incredibly vague...I just wish I could remember what story it was. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

Re:Old story I read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26947005)

It's one of Asimov's earlier stories, I think the ones that were lost and rediscovered.

A psychologist is assigned by a computer to a post on a planet with a small human outpost. Everyone wonders why the computer thought a psychologist was needed there, until it transpires people report hallucinations when they are new there.

On a trip to the outside surface of the planet (outside the closed base) the protagonist hears voices and sees these bugs who colest in a humanoid shape.

They just want their planet to be left alone, and are trying to convey that to the humans.

I'm sure I have an ebook of it on my computer back home. I wish I wasn't posted o
n a desolate planet right now...

You want to anger Mothra? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26939077)

What would Mothra think about this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothra

I skimmed the headers, and did not see a single Mothra joke, trying-times indeed.

moths are old news, beetles less old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26940249)

http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/22039/

DARPA Creates Army of Remote Controlled Insects (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26940373)

Dear god, I fear history is repeating itself. Didn't we learn this lesson the last time?:

"After millennia of battle the surviving G'Gugvuntt and Vl'hurg realised what had actually happened, and joined forces to attack the Milky Way in retaliation. They crossed vast reaches of space in a journey lasting thousands of years before reaching their target where they attacked the first planet they encountered, Earth. Due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was swallowed by a small dog."

On science fiction cinema... (1)

JoCat (1291368) | more than 5 years ago | (#26941165)

Why are electronic insects all the buzz?

Was a manager reading buzzwords off an in-flight magazine?

I hear the engineers are pretty fly.

In Soviet Russia, electricity makes flies run.

*ducks*

84 commets and none finds this morally disturbing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26941851)

No one finds this as possibly morally wrong?

I find this a little disturbing.. Maybe at least genetically engineer them not to have a CNS?

Fuck darpa and their total lack of ethics! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26942933)

How long before humans are implanted with similar devices?

It's funny how most people condemn the "studies" nazi doctors performed on jews during WWII but almost everybody's totally comfortable with this shit.

We live in a dark world.

I. Am. Dissappointed!. (1)

ashitaka (27544) | more than 5 years ago | (#26943549)

All the way down and no reference to remote-control cockroaches being whacked by a Black president's shoe long before there were Black presidents and shoes being thrown at presidents, Black or White.

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