Then the colleagues of Maharbiz found a muscle-sclerite, who alone was responsible for managing the flight. Having modeled the insect on a special installation, it was possible to increase the accuracy of control – and not at the level of direct impact, but, roughly speaking, guiding the “thoughts” of the beetle with physiological effects. Now, scientists lack feedback from insect sensory systems for precise control, but this is already being decided.
Let’s make a player out of it?
Digital miniaturization is very closely related to biology. Biological systems are widely available in nature, they are cheap and easy to reproduce. There are many organisms, plus they can be removed to the desired stage. The result – now you can use some insects as components for various equipment. For example, they already have a built-in gyroscope, a flying unit, and standard sensors.
Imagine the situation: when placed on a stream, to make a controlled platform from an insect cost, for example, about 1000 rubles, plus about 3-4 thousand is a base station for control. This very crude use of the insect may well turn out to be entertainment at first, and then industry.
Let’s go further. You can start to produce various strange things that will be a mixture of living and non-living chains. Synthetic control networks and biological components are already a reality and a little scary. And this is exactly what Maharbiz is doing now in Berkeley.
Now get control over the neuro systems
A cyber implant can be inserted into the chrysalis at the stage when it is formed (not too early – it will die, and not too late – it is rejected). Japanese scientists have conducted research on the implantation of microcontrollers in the head of an insect. When this thing developed, the controller became an ideal control system to which you could connect all the necessary peripherals and power. The media panicked, but then there was no special practical sense in the opening.
After a year and a half in Berkeley, a way was found to embed an interface into a butterfly through which neurons passed to the eye. The hypothesis was checked: a perforated flexible polymer was implanted into the chrysalis, which gave an amazing fusion. The eye formed correctly, but so that the neurons passed through the implant – and this implant could take data from them. Simply put, it turned out to create a technology for recording images from the eye (though, while it is not clear at the input what, it is still necessary to decode the “protocol” of data transfer inside the insect).
An insect with such an implant behaves normally and normally responds to the outside world, including among its own kind. Now the Maharbiz group is recording neural events and analyzing data. It is planned to reduce the interface for recording more events. The dream is to collect all data from insect sensors and use them for automated control and other tasks.
And the batteries too
The next breakthrough is the fuel cell on the insect. Scientists modified the glucose fuel cell and installed it on a bug. The beetle delivers glucose into the body (it eats products with it), the cell produces electricity for other beetle cyber systems. Now such a cell has been working for several weeks and gives 10-20 μW. In the future – a couple of years and 100mkW. You can do more, require more advanced technology or more cells in the insect. Radio transmitters can already be assembled without too much difficulty, just expensive.