London, July 12 (ANI): Scientists have created insect cyborgs, which can mimic the way some insects communicate to give early warning of chemical attacks on the battlefield.
The cyborgs, which have been implanted with electrodes to control their wing muscles, could help in locating disaster victims, monitoring for pollution and gas leaks, or acting as smoke detectors.
And now the researchers are planning to create living communication networks by implanting a package of electronics in crickets, cicadas or katydids - all of which communicate via wing-beats.
The implants will cause the insects in these OrthopterNets to modulate their calls in the presence of certain chemicals.
"We could do this by adjusting the muscle tension or some other parameter that affects the sound-producing movements. The insect itself might not even notice the modulation," New Scientist quoted Ben Epstein of OpCoast, as saying.
Epstein was struck with the idea of cyborgs during a visit to China, where he heard cicadas changing calls in response to each other.
The firm, which is based in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, has been awarded a six-month contract to develop a mobile communications network for insects.
Apart from a biochemical sensor and a device for modulating the wing muscles, the electronics package would contain an acoustic sensor designed to respond to the altered calls of other insects.
This should ensure the "alarm" signal is passed quickly across the network and is ultimately picked up by ground-based transceivers.
Pentagon is interested in the fact that the insects detect chemical and biological agents on the battlefield,
But Epstein has said they could be modified to respond to the scent of humans and thus be used to find survivors of earthquakes and other disasters.
The real challenge will be to miniaturise the electronics.
"Given a big enough insect it wouldn't be a problem," said Epstein.
But the company is looking at ubiquitous species such as crickets, which tend to be smaller. (ANI)