The new 'Beetle Bailey?'
University of California researchers, on a Pentagon contract, announced success at rigging a live flower beetle with electrodes and a radio receiver to enable scientists to control the insect's flight remotely. Pulses sent to the bug's muscles or optic lobes can command it to take off, turn left or right, or hover, according to a report in MIT Technology Review. The insect's "large" size (up to a whopping four inches in length) would enable it to also carry a camera, giving the beetle military uses such as surveillance or search and rescue. The researchers admired the native flight-control ability of the beetle so much that they abandoned developing robot beetles (which required trying to mimic nature).