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 -
Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
'We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top.' - Hal Clement, 1950.
Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.
Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.
Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.
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.
Wound Healing With Wearable Nanogenerators
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to ... erase the other internal-external damage.'
Flying Dragon Robot Transforms In Mid-Air
Terrific prototype video.
Negative Matter Fluid Theorized In New Paper
'Of course, being negative matter, when you push it, it comes toward you..'
Grow Structures Upon Planetfall - Myco-Architecture
'They'll also start pulling in gases and liquids from the local atmosphere...'
MXene Hydrogel Skin For Robots Flexes And Senses
'The plastex swam and whirled like boiling toothpaste...'
EXPLORER, The First Total-Body Scanner
'The object is built up of an infinite series of plane layers, at the focus of the ray...'
UK Police AI To Stop Criminals Before They Strike
'... the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.'
Sonitus Audio Interface Positioned Beyond The Noise
'... an instrument having relatively small bit pieces adapted to be gripped between the teeth.'
Volvo's Self-Driving Mining Trucks
'A procession of automatic ore carts was racing over the bleak slag'
Audi Pop.Up Autonomous Electric Flying Car
'The cab was an egg-shaped bubble of light metals and plastics...'
Music Not Impossible (MNI) Vibrotactile Wearable Experience
Don't you want to experience the 'feely' effects?
Chinese Face Recognition Mistakes Bus Ad For Jaywalker
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'
A Look Back At Apollo's Emergency Escape Vehicle
'A simple mechanism... it drove the iron ball through space like a ship.'
InMotion Glide 3 Electric Unicycle For The Last Mile
'...gyro-stabilized on a single wheel.'
China's Social Credit System - A Facebook-1984 Mashup
'Prestige, face, mana, repute, glory: the Sirenese word is strakh.'
Musk Declares Tesla Supercharger Capacity Will Double By Next Year
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories