BERKELEY (CBS SF) – Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley were able to remotely control a flying beetle with a high amount of precision by installing a tiny backpack with sophisticated electronics.
According to a report in Wired, the backpack contained a wireless receiver and transmitter, along with electrodes which stimulated a group of small muscles critical in making the beetle fly and steer.
The researchers were also able to make the beetle turn tighter in flight by increasing the rate of electronic pulses.
Before the study, scientists originally thought the muscles were only used to control the folding of the beetle’s wings.
“It’s really that this kind of technology is very useful as tools to figure out what’s going on in the insect,” Berkeley engineer and lead researcher Michel Maharbiz told Wired. Maharbiz also said that he was not interested in controlling the bugs for any nefarious purpose.
The researchers hope the remote-controlled beetles could eventually be used in search and rescue operations by entering locations too dangerous for humans.
According to a statement from UC Berkeley, engineers at Cal and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore worked on the project.