Researchers create cybernetic moth
North Caroline University (NCSU) researchers have created a cybernetic moth, belonging to the tobacco hornworm species (Manduca sexta), through the implantation of electrodes in the creature.
Dr. Alper Bozhurt, contributing researcher to the experiment worked with his team at Cornell to create a technique in which electrodes and control chips were implanted at the moth's initial phase or cocoon stag. During this stage, the moth was still going through the process of development.
Moth was connected to the platform that is balanced in the air by electromagnets. Data was collected by electromagnets from the electrodes, which are composed of electromyography signals. The chief function of these signals is to control the muscles that are associated with the flight.
These electrodes provide insight regarding the procedure through which the creature flies. The electrodes also permit the scientists to manage the flight of the moth. The moth can be made to flap its wings under computer control.
Dr. Bozkurt, a researcher associated with the experiment, said, "By watching how the moth uses its wings to steer while in flight, and matching those movements with their corresponding electromyographic signals, we're getting a much better understanding of how moths maneuver through the air".
Dr. Bozkurt explains that the long-term goal of this experiment is to potentially enable the use of moths as "biobots". According to the research team, Biobots, in the form of flying cyborg moths, could act as information gatherers in future search and rescue operations too dangerous for humans to undertake.
This is not the first time for such an advanced experiment as the NC State researchers have equipped insects with artificial "cyborg" attachments in 2012 as well. Bozkurt and other research colleagues showed they could guide a Madagascar hissing cockroach through a chosen route by transmitting electrical signals to its antennae and some additional sensory organs. However, there's still a lot of work ahead to create biobots as a usable tool.
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