Researchers from the North Carolina State University have found a way to turn moths into search-and-rescue bots. According to Factor, the team attached tiny electrodes to moths, which allowed them to monitor signals used to control flight muscles.
“We want to know whether we can control the movement of moths for use in applications such as search-and-rescue operations,” said co-author of the study Dr. Alper Bozkurt, a North Carolina State University assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. “The idea would be to attach sensors to moths in order to create a flexible, aerial sensor network that can identify survivors or public health hazards in the wake of a disaster.”
When the moth is in the pupal state, scientists attach electrodes to the back to monitor and map the signals it uses to control its muscles.
“By watching how the moth uses its wings to steer while in flight, and matching those movements with their corresponding electromyographic signals, we’re getting a much better understanding of how moths manoeuvre through the air,” said Bozkurt.
The team also created a wireless hovering platform that surrounds to moth as it flies, in order to accurately measure its movements. The platform uses electromagnets to stay suspended, and collects data as the moth flies around.
“We’re optimistic that this information will help us develop technologies to remotely control the movements of moths in flight,” Bozkurt said. “That’s essential to the overarching goal of creating biobots that can be part of a cyberphysical sensor network.”
Before creating a moth search-and-rescue team, the researchers will first have to develop an automated system to better control the moths and will have to make the technology smaller.
See how the technology works in the video below.