Feeds

Brainchipped flesh-cloak cyborg bug-bug passes milestone

Early hosts successfully cored, control snags remain

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

DARPA (the Pentagon asylum for usefully-insane scientists) is apparently making progress with its plan to build cyborg infiltrator machines wearing living creatures like fleshy cloaks.

Lest anyone think that this is a story about California politics, however, one should note that thus far DARPA and its associated groups are working with moths rather than immense Austrian bodybuilders.

Flight International reports that engineering boffin Robert Michelson - perhaps most famous for his "Entomopter" synthimuscle-flapper insectoid Martian mini-bot plan - gave an update on the DARPA programme at a joint US-Indian miniflybot conference on Friday.

Encouragingly - for those who find the cyborg concept appealing, anyway - it seems DARPA has found that it is indeed possible to pull out the middle of a suitable creature, throw all the entrails in the bin, and slip a mechanoid core into the resulting freed-up space. The machine's fleshy cloak will even go on to show good tissue growth afterwards, at least in the case of Manduca moths.

It seems, however, that the Pentagon bug-boffins would like to be able to borg up an insect at far-flung military bases, rather than just in specialist US facilities. Otherwise, the living outer cladding of the miniature machine spy might die of old age before it got to the front lines.

"You'd like this [lepidopterine listener] to be created out where you need it rather than in a lab in California," said Michelson.

In the longer term, the plan will be to fit selected insects with a range of sensors for (cough) bugging purposes, perhaps harvest bioelectric power from them, and somehow get the little fellows to fly under remote or autonomous computer control. Methods previously suggested for this last challenge include tiny jump-leads clipped onto their nervous systems, small transparent displays fixed over their eyes, or "projection of ultrasonic pulses simulating bats". The use of pheromone smell-control has also been mooted.

Needless to say, the biomimetic borg arms race seems already to have begun. DARPA and Georgia Tech with their puny moth-terminators may rue the day they went up against the US Army/U-Michigan chiropterthopter war bat with its smell scanners and gargoyle mode.

The counterstroke would almost inevitably involve the use of Robocop-style powered assist mechwarrior gear with moths at the controls - again, something already being trialled.

Read the Flight report here. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.