Researchers at UC Berkeley have engineered a biomechanical remote-controlled beetle. By implanting tiny electrodes into the insect’s brain and muscles, they are able take control of all of it’s natural movements.
check out a picture of one in this Discover article:
The research is funded by the “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,” a sector of the Department of Defense formed after the launch of Sputnik in order to promote American technological superiority.
Although these cyborgs are little more than million dollar remote-control helicopters at the moment, the DARPA sees great potential. Next, they plan to equip a beetle with a tiny recording device or other sensor to create an incredibly discrete and agile little spy- literally, a fly on the wall. Eventually, they think they will be able to produce these creature-robots cheaply and in large numbers.
The researchers are also experimenting with inserting machine components into insects at much earlier stages of development. For example, implanting electrodes into caterpillars and then letting them develop into completely normal looking butterflies.
This is really cool, but I do worry sometimes that the Department of Defense watches too much science fiction…