Video shows maiden flight of cyborg dragonfly

Video shows maiden flight of cyborg dragonfly

By Michael Irving Michael Irving  May 31, 2017

Over the past few years, a variety of cyborg animals have been unleashed, as scientists kit out cockroaches, locusts and even turtles with electronic accoutrements. Back in January, researchers from Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) outlined plans to fit dragonflies with tiny electronic backpacks, allowing them to be controlled remotely. In a new video, their cyborg dragonflies have taken flight for the first time.

The animal kingdom is fertile inspirational ground for new technology, but it's difficult to properly mimic the speed and manoeuvrability of a dragonfly, or the complicated olfactory system of a locust. Rather than designing robots and sensors from scratch, scientists have developed ways to take advantage of the hard work nature has already done, by equipping live insects with electronic systems.

In the case of Draper's and HHMI's DragonflEye, the insect is controlled through pulses of light piped into certain neurons in the bug's brain, which allows a human pilot to steer it like a drone. The eventual aim, the team says, is to use the tiny cyborgs to guide pollination, deliver payloads, or scout unsafe territory.

With the new video, the team has revealed how the solar-powered backpacks are attached to the insects, and briefly shown the DragonflEye taking wing for the first time. Check it out below.


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