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Wireless Flight Control of Cyborg Beetles

Wireless Flight Control of Cyborg Beetles
Michel Maharbiz [Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, UC Berkeley]
If it were possible to remotely control the flight of insects, and receive information from on-board sensors, there would be many applications. In biology, the ability to control insect flight would be useful for studies of insect communication, mating behavior and flight energetics, and for studying the foraging behavior of insect predators such as birds, as has been done with terrestrial robots. In engineering, electronically-controllable insects could be useful models for insect-mimicing M/NAVs. Furthermore, tetherless, electrically-controllable insects themselves could be used as M/NAVs and serve as couriers to locations not easily accessible to humans or terrestrial robots.

We recently demonstrated a family of implanatable, miniaturized, thorax-mounted systems consisting of neural stimulators, muscular stimulators, a microcontroller and a microbattery capable of wireless continuous flight control of living insects. Flight initiation, cessation and elevation control were accomplished through neural stimulus of the brain which elicited, suppressed or modulated wing oscillation. Turns were triggered through the direct muscular stimulus of either of the basalar muscles. I will discuss these systems, their limitations, our flight control results and discuss future research directions (and what we still do not understand!).

Michel M. Maharbiz is an istant Professor with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California Berkeley. He is a Director of the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC). He received his B.S. from Cornell and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley for his work on microbioreactor systems (which led to the foundation of Microreactor, Inc. – _www.microreactor.com) with Professor Roger T. Howe (EECS) and Professor Jay D. Keasling (ChemE). He was previously a GE Scholar and an Intel IMAP Fellow. Professor Maharbizs current research interests include micro/nano systems for cell culture and biology, parallel embly processes and bio-derived fabrication methods. His groups long term goals are to understand developmental mechanisms as a way to engineer and fabricate machines.

Duration : 0:50:25

Filed Under: Sensors & Actuators


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  1. jonomab says:

    5th element has the …
    5th element has the roach with a cam on its back along the same lines :P

  2. wormite says:

    That’s a wow
    That’s a wow

  3. nicotinefilter.info says:


    His talk was interesting and impressive in a number of aspects. For one, he did not use powerpoint. Infact, he did not use a computer at all! He did it the old fashioned way— using transparencies and a overhead projector. However, that doesn’ t mea…

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