Genetically modified dragonfly-cyborg (5 photos + video)
Demonstrated the world’s first Autonomous, controlled by electronic means flight of a dragonfly. The developers of biomedical laboratory Draper in conjunction with the Medical Institute of Howard Hughes (HHMI) presented a video in which a genetically modified dragonfly with a nervous system and a special backpack with electronic “stuffing” performs the first elementary motor actions, and then flying some distance.
The essence of the developments ongoing project DragonflEye, is that researchers are modifying certain neurons in dragonflies, making them susceptible to lighting commands received through a special, thin optical fiber (optrode). Electronics mounted on the back of a dragonfly is a fully Autonomous and energy independent, thanks to small solar panels.
The advantages of the optical system of command transmission in the neural network of the insect over traditional electric pulses lies in the possibility of selective effect of light exclusively on the genetically modified neurons. The choice of the dragonfly as a test insect is associated with its high maneuverability, long life (the summer season) and large enough mass (up to 600 g) allows loading the backpack with all necessary appliances.
In the future we plan to optimize the size of the dragonfly wearable electronics to ensure the aerodynamics of flight. The purpose of cyborg dragonflies can be quite broad surveillance, control or study of wildlife. The most valuable practical feature is a managed, targeted pollination of plants, which becomes relevant on the background of the global reduction in the populations of honey bees.