Pentagon Wants Cyborg Insects to Sniff WMD, Offer Free Wi-Fi

photo003

 

  • By Katie Drummond Email Author 
  • June 17, 2009
    Wired.com

The Pentagon is looking for better ways to prevent chemical weapon attacks. So military researchers are implanting insect larvae with WMD-detectors – turning them into cyborg-critters that specialize in tracking down mustard gas. Naturally.

In 2005, the military trainedhoneybees to sniff out land mines. Then, Darpa’s HI-MEMS programstarted trying to machinize insects instead. So far researchers have implanted micro-mechanical components into larval moths and createdremote-controlled beetles. Those initial HI-MEMS efforts seemed designed for reconnaissance missions – this time, the Pentagon wants its modified bugs to detect and differentiate between chemical agents.

The Pentagon has handed researchers at Agiltron Corporation a contract to implant larvae with “high sensitivity micromechanical chemical sensors” that run on electric power collected with an embedded “electromagnetic harvester.” The implanted system would include muscle actuators,  so different tics or twitches would signal the detection of different chemicals.

In separate deals, the Pentagon is also backing research into an insect-mounted device powered by fuel cells, for a more reliable energy source. “This solution offers several advantages over the existing electromechanical methods; 50-100X higher power density, power-generation independent of insect species, and power generation in absence of insect motion,” according to the contract award.

And to really bring the critters into the 21st century, the military wants to hook them up with their own wireless network – using chirps instead of Tweets. They’re funding two projects that would create “a mobile ad hoc network” for vocal insects like crickets and cicadas.

 

Insects will be equipped with embedded MEMS transceivers that pick up modulated calling sounds from nearby insects. Once the information in a call is extracted by the transceiver, the information code is applied to an electromechanical device on board the insect that modulates the insect calls, thereby retransmitting the information to another insect, and so on.

The instant-insect message would then be transmitted to humans or computerized systems, which could decode the covert chirp.

Sure, swarms of teensy biochemical detectors would be valuable in war-zones. But fly-swatters take note: project proposals reference “civilian and defense applications,” so your bug-squashing habit might soon make you a threat to national security.

 

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/06/pentagon-wants-cyborg-insects-to-sniff-wmd-offer-wi-fi/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: