Cyborg Mini Dragonflies Are Flying Through The Skies

Jamie Bishop | May 7th, 2019

There is now a live dragonfly, that wears a micro backpack that turns them into a cyborg, a dragonfly with optical implants. Known as the DragonflEye, a cybernetic micro air vehicle being created by at Draper.

spectrum.ieee.org

These modified dragonflies carry little backpacks filled with mini electronics. And these backpacks interface directly with the dragonfly’s nervous system to control it. To makes things even better these cyborg dragonflies are eco-friendly, being powered by the sun. Carrying around little tiny solar panels that will harvest enough energy to power itself, thus not needing any batteries at all.

And this is not science fiction, Draper already has moving prototypes that work. They have been testing this technology since 2017, which means it is nearly ready to really spring into action. You can imagine the possibilities and advantages that come with an army of stealth cyborg dragonflies.

The really unique part of DragonflEye’s setup is that they do not spoof any insect sensors or try to control their muscles. They actually use optical electrodes to inject different commands directly into their nervous systems. And these dragonflies have been genetically tweaked to accept the commands. The result is a cyborg insect that can fly wherever you want, without losing any of the airborne and flight skills of a real dragonfly. Something many micro air robots lack completely.

Common dragonflies weigh only around 600 milligrams and are known to naturally fly great distances at high speeds. So far any mechanical fliers have been far less efficient or effective at flight. The main problem that if you are creating a micro robot, then your robot will only have a very small power supply for its power source, meaning its flight time will be very low. However these half dragonfly half robots do not have this problem at all.

So far the research at Draper has been moving along at a tremendous rate. The electronics and hardware interface are all completely ready, and the testing phases have begun. It may still be some time before you see cyborg dragonflies zipping around your neighborhood, but at least you know it is actually an upcoming reality.

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