With little electronic backpacks installed on their backs, giant flower beetles are being remotely controlled while in free flight. Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) gained insight into how the insects fly and identified the use of these beetles in areas such as search-and-rescue.
The thought of these little bugs sporting backpacks makes me chuckle, but if they will be of service with search-and-rescue, I’m all for it!
The beetles were first placed in a closed room equipped with eight 3D motion-capture cameras. Using radio signals transmitted to the backpack once every millisecond, the researchers selectively stimulated different muscles. By doing so, they were able to get the insects to take off, turn left or right, or hover in place.
Similar research is being conducted at North Carolina State University, except instead of beetles, they are testing with cockroaches. It seems fitting that some of the peskiest bugs are put to work for us.
It might be fun to be the one to train these beetles (or cockroaches) in a very high tech way and have them follow your commands – releasing the inner animal trainer in you.