Pentagon Making Cyborg Crickets
Using animals as sentinels is nothing new, such as when miners used canaries to detect carbon monoxide and methane in coal mines. As the New Scientist reports, the Pentagon plans to use cyborg crickets for very much the same purpose, only for detecting chemical and biological agents on the battlefield. By equipping the crickets with small electronics to control their muscle movements, and hence the sounds created by their wing movements, a living communications network (OrthopterNets) can be created to relay specific warning signals when the cricket is in proximity of certain chemicals. Similarly, the equipment can be modified to detect human scents, possibly helping to locate survivors in earthquake rubble or other disasters.
Because they communicate using wing-beats, crickets, cicadas, and katydids are all possible subjects. The idea first came about when Ben Epstein of high-tech company OpCoast was visiting China and noticed how the cicada were changing their calls to each other. OpCoast was later awarded a six-month contract to develop a mobile communications network for insects by the Pentagon. If you find all of this hard to believe, check out the video above from New Scientist showcasing human-controlled moths and beetles. [From: New Scientist]