Cyber – Grasshopper detect explosives (USA)

Explosive detection dogs will loose their jobs, beware: soon you’ll get competition from locusts. U.S. researchers hijack the brain of animals with electrodes, to use their sense of smell.

For Baranidharan Raman, it is clear how explosives in the future can be found easily. “Why reinvent the wheel? Why do we do us not the biological solution advantage? “, says the Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.

Washington University in st Louis
Locusts are sniffer world champion: the animals can perceive new smells in the environment within a few hundred milliseconds. Photo: Washington University in St. Louis

The biological solution, these are locusts, whose sense of smell is much more effective than each sensor. “The chemical odor perception of animals is extremely sensitive,” says Raman. “You a few hundred milliseconds can smell to new smells that come into the environment within.”

Engineers hijack brain of locusts

To benefit from this sense of smell for finding explosives, Raman must first hijack the brain of the locust. With electrodes. You read odors, which perceives the animal with his sensitive antennas. A chip is placed in a tiny Backpack on the back of the insects save the results.

Alternatively, it should be possible to transfer the data directly to a central station.

The next step is then, to control the flight of locusts. Finally they should depart in the future suspicious regions. Raman designed a kind of tattoo that he brings up on the wings of insects.

An integrated laser beam heats up the wings of grasshoppers. To set him on the right wing, flying the animals left, navigating to the right, if the laser beam heats up the left wing.

Is it actually possible? Raman explains that he has already individually tested the components.

It was very complicated to condition the Cyber locusts in the laboratory and to train. It was one of the biggest challenges of his project. At the end of his project will be a proof of concept.

Cockroaches become lifesavers and wanted

Also cockroaches are suitable for rescue missions. Researchers which remote controls North Carolina State University with a technique, the cockroaches experiment for several years. It’s a 0.7 g light chip, which is associated with body and sensors. With the Smartphone, the little creatures can transmit bio-data to remotely supervised station.

Barani Raman 1
Researchers hijack the brain of locusts with electrodes. So odors can be stored, which perceive the animals with their antennas. Photo: Barani Raman

In the future they could be detected buried victims of the earthquake, for example in destroyed buildings. A job for the also this robot is to kind of cockroaches.