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Radio-Controlled Cyborg Beetles Become Reality

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the tsa-agents-didn't-show-enough-drive dept.

Robotics 150

holy_calamity writes "DARPA's plans to create brain chips for insects so they can be steered like an RC plane are bearing fruit. Videos show that a team at Berkeley can use radio signals to tell palm-sized African beetles to take off and land, and to lose altitude and steer left or right when in flight. They had to use the less-than-inconspicuous giant beetles because other species are too weak to take off with the weight of the necessary antenna and brain and muscle electrodes."

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150 comments

I for one (4, Funny)

Johann Public (542327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613601)

welcome our new remote control beetle overlords!

Re:I for one (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29613615)

I am swarmed with the feeling that this will bug a lot of people.

Re:I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29613677)

Those are some bad puns.

Re:I for one (2, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614553)

Of course it stings people; this is a war technology and it flies in the face of diplomacy and peace. We should be able to listen to our Beatles records in our VW bugs rather than collecting new weapons like a scarab collects shit. This ticks me off!

Re:I for one (2, Insightful)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614679)

Me too. Any country that spends more on weapons than on education should be called a developing nation.

Re:I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29615263)

bzzzzzzzzzzzzt!

Re:I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29614747)

The puns... they hurt my brains!!!

Re:I for one (4, Funny)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613753)

What, no lasers?

DARPA is giving violent people ideas. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29613867)

Soon other people will be doing the same thing, using DARPA's leadership, and terrorism using that method will be common.

In the entire history of the world, the U.S. government is the biggest originator of violence. The U.S. government has invaded or bombed 25 countries since the end of the 2nd world war.

The U.S. has more citizens in prison than farmers.

Weapons investors like Cheney and his friends and the Bush family want continuous war.

Re:DARPA is giving violent people ideas. (1)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614669)

Reducing the supply of ideas will not prevent or reduce violence overall.

Re:DARPA is giving violent people ideas. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29614877)

Soon other people will be doing the same thing, using DARPA's leadership, and terrorism using that method will be common. In the entire history of the world, the U.S. government is the biggest originator of violence. The U.S. government has invaded or bombed 25 countries since the end of the 2nd world war. The U.S. has more citizens in prison than farmers. Weapons investors like Cheney and his friends and the Bush family want continuous war.

*slap* Shut up and make a bug joke.

Re:DARPA is giving violent people ideas. (0)

arethuza (737069) | more than 4 years ago | (#29615295)

"U.S. government is the biggest originator of violence" While I don't spend a lot of time defening the USA - that comment is pretty dubious. Consider the amount of harm inflicted on the people of the world by the Nazis, Soviets or the Chinese Communist party against what the USA has done.

Re:DARPA is giving violent people ideas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29615521)

Us is still no. 1. American landmines are still killing people to this day.

And that is ONLY (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613915)

Because we control the remote control on you and TOLD you to say that. Insects. Get real. That was last decades tech. So passé.

Re:I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29614161)

Why cant we do this to politicos and lawyers then?

Re:I for one (3, Insightful)

Gravitron 5000 (1621683) | more than 4 years ago | (#29615483)

Why cant we do this to politicos and lawyers then?

For politicos, it's because they would need a brain to attach the electrodes to.

Smaller, smaller, smaller... (2, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613647)

FTS:

"They had to use the less-than-inconspicuous giant beetles because other species are too weak to take off with the weight of the necessary antenna and brain and muscle electrodes."

So, as technology advances: smaller electronics, radio parts, electromechanical components, power source -> smaller state-of-the-art RC toy. How long until you can have your own, remote-controlled army of fruit flies? 5 years? 10? 20?

Re:Smaller, smaller, smaller... (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 4 years ago | (#29615299)

How long until you can have your own, remote-controlled army of fruit flies?

Do they let gay flies into the army these days ?

Name (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29613651)

Large? For Beetles.
Benevolent? Probably not.
Cyborg? Check.
I suggest we call these the Big Bad Beetleborgs.

Yo dawg, I heard you like flying beetles... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29613657)

... so I put a, oh fuck it.

FINALLY. (3, Funny)

straponego (521991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613659)

At last we can breathe a little easier, secure in the knowledge that flying cockroaches are watching over us at all times.

Sweet, but needs a lot of work still (4, Insightful)

Fuger (795406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613667)

This is really cool, but there seem to be some serious limitations. (Yes, I know that's kind of the definition of "prototype.")

"I'm sceptical about their ability to do surveillance for the following reason: no one has solved the power issue."

If you can't monitor what they're doing without being in the same room, then the range is very small. On the other hand, if this could be scaled up to larger animals, perhaps the power would cease to be an issue. However, it does seem like the relative lack of sophistication present in these insects is what allows this control, in part.

"It's not entirely clear how much control a beetle has over its own flight," Hedrick says. "If you've ever seen a beetle flying in the wild, they're not the most graceful insects."

Still, if they can get the surveillance issue figured out, this could represent a significant advance is Search and Rescue -- use insects or small animals to access places that humans can't (collapsed buildings, landslides, etc.)

Re:Sweet, but needs a lot of work still (5, Interesting)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613723)

What is amazing if you think about it is how far and fast insects can go with so little energy consumption. In contrast, a simple little radio...

Re:Sweet, but needs a lot of work still (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29615225)

A simple little crystal radio can power itself using the signal...

Re:Sweet, but needs a lot of work still (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614101)

When I read about progress along these lines I always think about this story about Iran [msn.com] , which resulted in mockery from all corners of the globe.

Re:Sweet, but needs a lot of work still (1)

plastbox (1577037) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614541)

Oh. My. God.

I see why people are spying on Iran, the picture at the bottom of the article.. It's the Emperor! *gasp*

Re:Sweet, but needs a lot of work still (4, Funny)

GradiusCVK (1017360) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614629)

if this could be scaled up to larger animals, perhaps the power would cease to be an issue

I say we strap a diesel generator and a surveillance suite on an elephant. It's my understanding that even if somebody notices him in the room, they'll still act like they don't.

Re:Sweet, but needs a lot of work still (1)

WoRLoKKeD (1142351) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614895)

If you can't monitor what they're doing without being in the same room, then the range is very small. On the other hand, if this could be scaled up to larger animals, perhaps the power would cease to be an issue.

Personally, something about surveillance tigers doesn't sit too well with me.

Re:Sweet, but needs a lot of work still (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29615013)

if this could be scaled up to larger animals, perhaps the power would cease to be an issue.

Sharks. Although then you've got to find power for the laser beam.

I wonder... (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613669)

If this project will turn out better than "Acoustic Kitty" [wikipedia.org] did...

We've always wanted to be a fly on the wall; but having your secret spy weapon get eaten by an insectivorous plant would be pretty embarrassing.

5th Element anyone? (1)

Sorny (521429) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613717)

This is right out of The Fifth Element. Excellent!

Re:5th Element anyone? (2, Informative)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613729)

Are you on a "The 5th Element" scavenger hunt or something? ;)

Ahh... (1)

robbrit (1408421) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613779)

Palm as in palm of your hand, here I was thinking palm tree. That would certainly be "less-than-inconspicuous"!

beetles... (2, Funny)

fireball84513 (1632561) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613789)

beetles really creep me out, let me know when i can get a brain chip thingy for my dog so he will stop taking a shit on the grass and instead dump his load in the sandbox like hes supposed to

Finally! (3, Funny)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613807)

Radio-Controlled Cyborg Beetles Become Reality

Well, it's about damn time. You know how long I've been waiting for this day?

/wipes away a single tear

Like, how old is that tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29613819)

Oh man, I had a radio-controlled Beetle [vintagercweb.com] back in 1981. Way to go with those tax dollars, DARPA.

Shame this is not genetic engineering (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613833)

We're still decades (centuries? maybe, if there's roadblocks) away from being able to create a sense organ for radio and training an animal to follow commands received via it. Of course, then someone will want the communication to two way so you can see through the bug's eyes, etc. Before you know it you've equipped a social insect with a massive evolutionary advantage which it uses to form the most fearsome hive mind, flies into space and takes over the galaxy. Gah, then we have to flight bugs in space, eww.

Re:Shame this is not genetic engineering (4, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#29613955)

Gah, then we have to flight bugs in space, eww.

So, you don't want citizenship, do you?

Re:Shame this is not genetic engineering (1)

Philip_the_physicist (1536015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614453)

I don't mind alien bugs, but if they start sucking out brains I'm going to kill myself rather than see how bad the timeline is.

Re:Shame this is not genetic engineering (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614171)

Why fight them? We can upload our minds into the process distributed inside the bugs' network and finally leave this god-forsaken corner of Virgo, and move into Shapley [wikipedia.org] , where all the action is.

Re:Shame this is not genetic engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29615085)

I see this as a step into a dangerous direction. Next generations of this technology will use smaller equipment carrying insects and will pick them according to their un-suspiciousness ("theater"-local species) and adversaries who are afraid of being "bugged" will probably use insecticides to prevent this tactics from working. Then, military will create insecticide-resistant strains of insects and before we turn around, the world will be swamped with bazzilions of pests with no way to control them!

Just restrain from messing [wikipedia.org] with anything that could potentially run away and strive unchecked without your daily support.

Cyborgs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29613931)

Do we really need radio-controlled cyborg Beatles to become reality?

Karma (0, Offtopic)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614015)

Knowing he was the last of his species that had not been subjugated by the warring giants, Jonathan scratched his legs together harder than he'd ever done so before, creating a resonance in the air of such penetrating frequency that its fluctuations were felt not merely in the upper reaches of the planet's atmosphere, but further, deeper into space. And after many years of travel that sound, vibrating off trace molecules of hydrogen and helium floating in the ether, finally reached the highly developed and ultra-sensitive antanae of his forefathers. Upon hearing that screech of anguish, of hopeless tragedy, a world, nay, a galaxy of worlds was moved to arms.

And so, the younger beetles were lifted from their bondage, and the race of humanity was invaded and broken apart like the guy from the last scene in Creepshow. The celebration lasted for years until discovery of the artists behind the White Album caused a moral civil war to break out. Beetlemaniacs ran rampant through the streets and in the walls and between the countertops and woodwork. And such is a species without an enemy -- the enemy comes then from within.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29614165)

did you work real hard to get so retarded, lol?

News at 11... (1)

d4nowar (941785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614045)

The Berkeley team has apparently been taken over, conquered if you will, by a master race of giant radio-controlled cyborg beetles.

It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive Berkeley men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain, there is no stopping them. The beetles will soon be here.

And I, for one, welcome our new radio controlled cyborg beetles.

Loved reading the comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29614059)

as nobody as much as had a hint of nausea because of the unethicality of such projects. Today bugs, tomorrow me and you.

Re:Loved reading the comments (1)

Dr. Hellno (1159307) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614659)

today, people cook cow meat for dinner. Tomorrow, they'll be cooking me and you!

Come on.

Re:Loved reading the comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29615275)

You're talking ethics and insects? Uh... OK

Do you care about all the insects and bacteria you will kill while walking around today? Or all the microbes that will die because you wash them off? Consider the ethics of that you evil bastard!

Re:Loved reading the comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29615491)

Perhaps he's a Buddhist, and that's his mother you've killed you insensitive clod!

Prior Art (2, Interesting)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614073)

This was first done in the 5th Element when Zorg's assistant spies on the president. Obviously, according to IP law, DARPA owes the creators of the 5th Element $500 Trillion (in standard RIAA dollars).

Improvization and Military use (2, Insightful)

BhaKi (1316335) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614275)

It is only a matter of time before the US uses these robotic bees to spy on "evil" nations' activities.
I just had an interesting thought. If the same research happened in Iran or N. Korea, then the western media would have, by now, successfully crafted false stories like "Iran prepares robotic spies for spying on US". It is very sad that we are not seeing stories like "US preparing to dispatch robotic bees to all evil parts of the world."

Re:Improvization and Military use (1)

Dr. Hellno (1159307) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614665)

man they're already working on a pain-gun. Bug spies are really the least of my concerns.

North Korea and Iran ARE EVIL (1, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614993)

Seriously, why do you have to live in a stupid bubble that says a total dictatorship backed up by concentration camps isn't evil? These countries aren't like, ho hum, the USA, where you call yourself oppressed because your daddy didn't give attention. These are countries where you call yourself oppressed because you said you were hungry and the 5 year plan said you had more food than ever, or you said that you were unhappy and Allah should provide.

I'm so sick of hearing people put the USA on the same moral ground as places like that. We aren't like that, and we aren't like that because we have people that do the work of keeping us not like that. There's cultural institutions that have been put in place, educational traditions. Granted, liberals are tearing all that down and replacing it with the sort of self indulgent crap that invariably leads to a sense of entitlement about property and ultimately a dictatorship class, but, they haven't been successful yet.

esse est percipi (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614379)

Somehow I think George Berkeley would be somewhat disappointed to see his namesake directly manipulating living organisms for the purpose of spying on humans.

Not yet ready ... (1)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614383)

From what I've read they're many years away from perfecting this, it's too full of bugs.

better application for this (1)

artecco (1020333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614763)

Still waiting for the "omg. think of the children dept" and "omg terrorists are everywhere dept." to start wiring presumed dangerous people.

Just think of the benefits, if anything bad happens the department can just push the big red button and every dangerous man in the country automatically stops whatever they are doing and walks to the detention camp/holding cell until the the dept. in charge have figured out who had done it.

Brilliant! I can't wait for this system to get applied in a wider area than bugs.

When one of those hits your windshield... (1)

ockers (7928) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614803)

...look out! I lived in west Africa for many years and I'll never forget what it's like for one of those to hit the windshield while driving at night at 120Km/h. I was hoping to never see one again.

WTF... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29614823)

Am i the only one here who has a (ethical? moral?) problem with this entire line of research?

Maybe i'm just thinking a little too far into the future and seeing what scary insane shit this research will end up as.

I guess i'm glad i'll be long dead by the time that mess gets here.

Hey future... HA HA! Sucks to be you!

captcha: listens (wow. thats bizarre)

Re:WTF... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29615233)

I'll admit it creeps me out. Not that I have any problem with slicing and dicing bugs for science, but the whole area of brain control of any species, especially when that research is government funded really bothers me.

-jcr

Beetles today, people tomorrow. (1)

Sibko (1036168) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614825)

Beetles today, people tomorrow.

Re:Beetles today, people tomorrow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29615671)

Here here... strange, everybody on /. complains about Big Brother watching but when it comes to Big Brother controlling only a very small minority mention it.

RADIO-CONTROLLED CYBORG BEETLES! (1)

bmecoli (963615) | more than 4 years ago | (#29614957)

RADIO-CONTROLLED CYBORG BEETLES!
RADIO-CONTROLLED CYBORG BEETLES!
Beetles with some brain chips... BEETLE POWER!

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. *makes a pitch to Warner Bros.*

A Question about the video in TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29615057)

The voice narration for the video in TFA sounds like a very good text-to-speech synthesizer. Any pointers to more info about that specific text-to-speech synthesizer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

My advertisement for conservatives (-1, Offtopic)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29615065)

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This is awesome (1)

Jay Tarbox (48535) | more than 4 years ago | (#29615119)

I was afraid there was going to be stupid tether wire, but NO TETHER. Truly remote controlled this time.

Next steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29615305)

Nice.
Next step would be to scale up, make it rob a bank for me and suicide.

Battery Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29615643)

So if the remote runs out of batteries do you need more.... Beetlejuice?

crude (1)

kwikrick (755625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29615833)

Their control method seems very crude to me. They have no control over the bugs little brain at all. If you want it to take off, give it an electric jolt, and it will fly away. Like hitting cow with a stick. Sure, that works. If you want it to stop, give it a bigger jolt, and it will drop out of the air. Like hitting a someone over the head with a bigger stick. Left and right: shock one wing so it will twitch and not work properly for a moment while the other wing goes on, and voila, steering. This is not neuro-science, but animal cruelty.

By the way, something similar, only more funny, has been done with humans recently: http://thekeyidea.blogspot.com/2009/08/controlling-navigation-by-ear-pulling.html [blogspot.com]

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