Project wants to use cyborg crickets as early warning system on battlefield

A new research project supported by the Pentagon is looking to use insects as an early warning network. The project's goal is to take advantage of the natural communication methods of insects to give early warning of chemical attacks on the battlefield. The researchers on the project say that the insect cyborgs could also be configured to help locate disaster victims in an emergency like a bombing or a natural disaster.

The cyborg bugs in question were implanted with electrodes that control their wing muscles. The researchers are conducting the research using crickets, cicadas, or katydids. All of the insects in the research program communicate with wing beats. The implants will allow the insects to modulate the calls using wing beats in response to certain chemicals.

Researcher Ben Epstein of OpCoast said, "We could do this by adjusting the muscle tension or some other parameter that affects the sound-producing movements. The insect itself might not even notice the modulation."

The implanted biochemical sensor on the bugs would be paired with a device for modulating the wing muscles of the insect. The big challenge facing the researchers is to miniaturize the electronics.

The researchers envision the networks using hundreds or thousands of insects and the network could be spread far apart.

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