Monday, February 18, 2008

The Moth Brain

Awhile back, the Register and others reported DARPA's Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) program, designed to create a "brain-chipped cyborg moth" that could be remotely controlled and used as a spy. Provided that no one swatted them, remotely controlled lepidoptera could collect information and, at least according to Rod Brooks of the MIT media lab, could be developed relatively cheaply. "This is going to happen," he asserted.

In January 2008, Cornell University researchers succeeded in creating the moth cyborg. From LiveScience:

Cornell University researchers have succeeded in implanting electronic circuit probes into tobacco hornworms as early pupae.
The hornworms pass through the chrysalis stage to mature into long-lived moths whose muscles can be controlled with the implanted electronics. The research was showcased at MEMS 2008, an international academic conference on Micro-Electrico-Mechanical Systems that took place from January 13-17 in Tucson, AZ.

Man has mastered the moth brain! Well, mastered may be too strong a phrase. But we can, evidently, cause tobacco hornworm blade muscles to move via a "driving voltage of 5 volts."

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