A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Hybrid Insect MEMS Sought By DARPA For Bug Army
HI-MEM-based bug armies? Our friends at DARPA seem to have cyborgs on the brain. Hot on the heels of last week's presentation of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center's progress on shark cyborgs comes a solicitation notice for Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS).
In their solicitation notice BAA06-22, DARPA explicitly rejects research which merely results in "evolutionary improvement upon existing state-of-the-art." They are looking for more innovative proposals, suggesting that it should be possible to integrate microsystems within insects during the early stages of metamorphosis. Specifically, DARPA believes that "healing processes from one metamorphic stage to the next stage are expected to yield more reliable" implantation results. Hopefully, this will result in more sophisticated (and more reliable) bio-electromechanical interfaces, as opposed to those cheap "adhesively-bonded systems" sometimes used on adult insects.
The final demonstration goal of the HI-MEMS program is the controlled arrival of an insect within five meters of a specified target located one hundred meters from the insect's starting point. It must then remain stationary indefinitely, unless otherwise instructed. It must also be able to transmit data from DOD sensors providing information about the local environment.
Tired of working with flying insects? No problem; DARPA says that "hopping and swimming insects could also meet final demonstration goals."
Effort is required in the following areas:
DARPA has tried to make use of insects before. In their Detection of Biological and Chemical Warfare Agents by Honey Bees program, it was hoped that the natural foraging behavior of honeybees could be harnessed for military applications. However, after some initial success, it appears that "Instinctive behaviors for feeding and mating -- and also for responding to temperature changes -- prevented them from performing reliably."
- Demonstrate reliable bio-electromechanical interfaces to insects
- Demonstrate locomotion control using MEMS platforms
- Demonstrate technologies to scavenge power from insects.
It also appears that honey bees can be trained to recognize individuals; whether or not they can be trained to salute and obey orders is another matter.
Entomologists are skeptical. According to the BBC, Dr George McGavin of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History said it appeared impossible to connect the technology to the right places during the metamorphic phase, particularly with regard to flight.
Museum entomology expert Stuart Hine added, "I feel that the reality of such cyborg fusion between insect and machine lies squarely in the realms of fiction."
That may be true, but I can't find the reference. I can think of various examples of implants made after birth, like Jones the cyborg dolphin and implanted microprocessor monitors for executives. Anyone?
Update 27-Jan-2008: It turns out that this program was actually inspired by a specific science fiction novel: read more about it in HI-MEMS: Cyborg Beetle Microsystem and HI-MEMS: Control Circuits Embedded In Pupal Stage Successfully. End update.
Read more about it at the BBC site. Thanks to alert reader Masa Thavia for the story tip.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/15/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 8 )
Related News Stories -
Baubotanik - Construction Botany - Builds Bridges
'A dwelling must be all of a unit—the walls, the drainage, the decor grown in!' - Jack Vance, 1954.
Mice Gestate In Mechanical Womb
'... in the Decanting Room, the newly-unbottled babes uttered their first yell of horror and amazement.' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.
Worlds With Underground Oceans More Conducive To Life
'There is life on Europa.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1982.
Monkey Gets A Bigger Brain, Thanks To Human Gene
'It's a madhouse! a madhouse!' - Planet of the Apes, 1968.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
CyberOne Robot By Xiaomi vs. Optimus Robot By Tesla
'I shall introduce myself... I am a robot.'
Giving Snakes Their Legs Back
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to 'help them out.'
'Ring Nation' Show Predicted By William Gibson In 1999
'... you had your trademark Lucky Dragon Global Interactive Video Column outside.'
SolarXOne Solar-Powered Drone Flies (almost) Forever
'It's an Indian Air Force drone; its solar cells could power an entire farm.'
Video! Chess Robot Breaks Opponent's Finger In Match
'A robot may not injure a human being.'
Virtual Co-Embodyment - Two People Control One Virtual Body
'... we were supposed to be forming five unit composites first."
The Wanderer: Eyebot From Fallout, Eye From Zelazny
'We send our eyes on their appointed rounds, and they can hover or soar or back up...'
Experts Decry Planet-Scale Schemes To Limit Global Heating
'Light from the sun hit those little spheres and bounced.'
OrganEx Revives The Organs In Dead Pig
'Wakened into half-life activity one hour a month...'
NAVER Labs Haptic Device 2.0 Robot vs. IKEA
'... the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.'
Spaceships Should Last So Long
'THE SPACE VESSEL was traveling swiftly… For over five thousand years they had Voyaged on and on.’
Shine On, Portable Wind Turbine
'Sometimes a man has a windmill on his roof...'
Amazing Indoor Robotic Drones Mimic Dolphins and Whales
'They circled the vast audiences, dancing, twittering, chirping...'
Space Station Shutters
'The sun-quilt was a patchwork of colors and materials on the inward side, but silvered on the outward side...'
Tiny Mining - Extract Precious Industrial Minerals From Your Own Body
'Jim, I saw them reduce four of my doctors and nurses into those little cubes!'
MIT Proposes Space Bubbles To Combat Climate Change, Misses The Point Of Space Bubbles
'Fats Jordan was hanging in the center of the Big Glass Balloon, hugging his guitar to his massive black belly above his purple shorts..'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories