genetically-modified CYBORG dragonflies that can be remotely controlled to spy on people

The genetically-modified CYBORG dragonflies that can be remotely controlled to spy on people

  • Cyborg insects are fitted with fingernail-sized backpacks that control them
  • They contain electronics which then activate a messenger-neuron inside the fly
  •  These neurons then carry steering commands to the wings, guiding it on a path
  • They can be used for 'guided pollination' as well as surveillance missions

A genetically modified cyborg dragonfly that can spy on anyone has been unveiled. Dubbed the DragonflEye, the half-insect, half-machine is fitted with a fingernail-sized backpack, powered by a solar panel and remotely controlled by an operator

A genetically modified cyborg dragonfly that can spy on anyone has been unveiled. Dubbed the DragonflEye, the half-insect, half-machine is fitted with a fingernail-sized backpack, powered by a solar panel and remotely controlled by an operator. 

The dragonfly can be used for 'guided pollination' as well as surveillance missions, according to researchers.  The insect could even carry payloads, according to Jesse Wheeler, a senior biomedical engineer at Draper Labs which collaborated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to carry out the DragonflEye program.

The expert told Spectrum iEEE: 'Beyond tracking, the DragonflEye system offers new miniaturized technology to equip a wide range of insects with environmental sensors and potentially guide important behaviors, like pollination.'

To carry out the research, engineers had to develop a way of genetically modifying the nervous system of the dragonfly so it can respond to pulses of light. To do this, the team gave the insect a gene which added light-sensitive proteins called ospins to the neurons.

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