Cyborg Bugs Could Warn of Fires, Chemical Attacks

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2009 6:04 PM CDT
Scientists hope to use common insects like crickets as an early-warning system for soldiers.   (©whiskymac)
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(Newser) – Cyborg bugs may sound like creatures in a Michael Bay movie, but they could save your life, New Scientist reports. The Pentagon is trying to implant electrodes in crickets and cicadas—which communicate via wingbeats—and program them to “speak” differently around certain chemicals. “The insect itself might not even notice the modulation,” says Ben Epstein, who conceived of the technology.

The project is designed to warn soldiers of chemical and biological attacks, but could have other applications, from finding disaster survivors to detecting smoke. The challenge now is in creating the tiny technology. "Given a big enough insect it wouldn't be a problem," says Epstein, who concedes that cricket-sized electrodes remain a challenge.