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DARPA targets al-Qaeda with spook cyberfly

Hybrid Insect-MEMS X project

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Geek entomologists stand by your beds: the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for research proposals in the area of Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems, aka HI-MEMS - remote-controlled cyberinsects capable of being "delivered" to within five metres of Osama bin Laden from a control distance of one hundred metres.

This is not, btw, a "stick a chip on a fly" bodge-up, as the pitch explains:

DARPA seeks innovative proposals to develop technology to create insect-cyborgs, possibly enabled by intimately integrating microsystems within insects, during their early stages of metamorphoses. The healing processes from one metamorphic stage to the next stage are expected to yield more reliable bio-electromechanical interface to insects, as compared to adhesively bonded systems to adult insects. Once these platforms are integrated, various microsystem payloads can be mounted on the platforms with the goal of controlling insect locomotion, sense local environment, and scavenge power.

Ambitious stuff, to be sure. And there's more. A successful insect-cyborg "must remain stationary either indefinitely or until otherwise instructed" and must also be able to "transmit data from DOD relevant sensors, yielding information about the local environment".

Naturally, at this point you're thinking: "Aha, quick, get me a couple of dozen dragonflies and my soldering iron," although DARPA reckons "hopping and swimming insects could also meet final demonstration goals".

The al-Qaeda-busting spook grasshopper? We love it. Alternatively, might we suggest DARPA contact Vincent Price with a view to melding a miniature human head onto a fly's body? It's proven technology and you get the added advantage of a six-foot fly-headed monster as part of the process which can be used against the Taliban. ®

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