Drones

Video shows maiden flight of cyborg dragonfly

Video shows maiden flight of c...
A cyborg dragonfly, named the DragonflEye, has taken flight for the first time in a video
A cyborg dragonfly, named the DragonflEye, has taken flight for the first time in a video
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The DragonflEye system fits into a tiny electronic backpack that allows the insect to be controlled through pulses of light piped into the steering neurons in its brain
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The DragonflEye system fits into a tiny electronic backpack that allows the insect to be controlled through pulses of light piped into the steering neurons in its brain
A cyborg dragonfly, named the DragonflEye, has taken flight for the first time in a video
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A cyborg dragonfly, named the DragonflEye, has taken flight for the first time in a video
The researchers from Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and Howard Hughes Medical Institute unveiled the DragonflEye in January, and has now released a video of the cyborg taking flight
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The researchers from Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and Howard Hughes Medical Institute unveiled the DragonflEye in January, and has now released a video of the cyborg taking flight

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.

Source: Charles Stark Draper Laboratory

First Look: Behind-the-scenes with DragonflEye

8 comments
S Michael
The Insect rights groups, better know as the IRG, are going to be all over you. Dragonflies have right too you know.
Daishi
Bees with backpacks in this space is pretty interesting too.
PhilipSlagter
Absolutely amazing. And this is only a minute portion of what human potential is all about. Bravo to Hughes Medical Institute and whatever team accomplished this.
Sean Anderton
Maybe they can use this cyborg dragonfly to help solve the Seth Rich murder. ...unless Wasserman-Schultz & Brazile handed out complimentary bug-zappers to whoever does their wet work?
ljaques
S Michael, you jest, but seeing this turned my stomach. If you want robots, build robots, but leave insects and animals out of this. Or test on yourselves. Mr/Ms. Draper or HHMI Researcher, how would you like it if someone fastened a 30lb video cam and battery pack on you? Locked to your back for the rest of your life.
JohnSheridan
Where is PETA when you need them?
alan c
Note that the dragonfly is flying in hover mode all the time, probably due to the sheer weight of equipment carried. I'm not sure if this is gruesome, or a promising first step.
Nostromo47
I'm with most commenters in that this looks like a very cruel way to treat a little beastie like a dragonfly. Then again, animal testing is widespread and is the only real way to get meaningful data on medicines. Animals are "sacrificed" regularly so we can learn about psychology, anatomy and physiology. Also, unless you're a vegan, to satisfy your need for calories, animals are slaughtered on an industrial scale. Making sausage ain't pretty.