Researchers at the University of California have successfully hacked a giant flower beetle to be controlled remotely –
A scientist sends a wireless signal from the laptop to the beetle to start and then stop flight. The beetle, seen in the upper part of the frame, is tethered for practical purposes. The insect is attached to a clear plate, so that its flight pattern can be better observed. An oscilloscope shows the electrical signals as they are delivered: a short oscillating pulse triggers the animal to flap its wings, and it continues flapping until a short single pulse tells it to stop.
The beetle’s payload consists of an off-the-shelf microprocessor, a radio receiver, and a battery attached to a custom-printed circuit board, along with six electrodes implanted into the animals’ optic lobes and flight muscles. Flight commands are wirelessly sent to the beetle via a radio-frequency transmitter that’s controlled by a nearby laptop. Oscillating electrical pulses delivered to the beetle’s optic lobes trigger takeoff, while a single short pulse ceases flight. Signals sent to the left or right basilar flight muscles make the animal turn right or left, respectively.