Cyborg Insects To Make Biorobotic Sensing Machines

Posted: Jun 29 2016, 11:11am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Cyborg Insects to Make Biorobotic Sensing Machines
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are using a locust's sense of smell to develop new biorobotic sensing devices.
  • Scientists will study Insects in order to build Biorobotic Gauging Devices

Scientists and engineers will be studying insects in order to build biorobotic gauging devices.

A $750,000 grant will enable several engineers to employ the super-sensitive sense of smell in locusts to construct a bio-robotic nose of sorts. The problem is that biological systems possess a level of complexity that cannot be reached by their AI counterparts.

While the sense of olfaction is a pretty primitive one, it extends across the board in all species. It is almost as if the field of biology made extra room for sensing chemicals in the air in order to warn the species of any danger or prey in the locality.

A thorough understanding of the olfactory sense is very crucial for artificial intelligence. The reception of olfactory signals and their interpretation in locusts was studied.

A certain odor could easily be detected, despite there being other odors in the vicinity. It seems to be a very fine-tuned sense, this power to sniff out all sorts of fragrances and obnoxious sources of stinkiness in the environment. Locusts recognize odors in very minute amounts in spite of the overlapping of several other overpowering smells.

Scientists do no need to do anything different. They could just take the biological model and somehow manage to replicate it in real life (using a combination of biology and AI).

The most complex and sensitive technology seems to have a couple of sensors in its detection array. Yet when you compare this with the locust’s antennae, they have hundreds of thousands of sensors. They come in a multitude of types too.

The team of engineers wants to oversee these locusts while they are going about their business of exploring the environment. This will lend them clues about how the locusts differentiate odors and gauge them in accordance with their insect nature. Decoding the odors is not child’s play.

The equipment that will be used by the scientists will have to be state-of-the-art in its scope. Also the future may have a place for using locusts to collect data regarding various odors.

They will have electronic parts built into their brains all the better to employ them for scientific purposes. These cyborg locusts will be a boon for science and the scientific method. The locusts will most probably be handled using remote controls in the same manner as we use drones today.

These locusts will move into uneven terrain and collect data regarding various chemicals. As a hybrid insect-machine mixture, the locusts will surely prove to be a fruitful venture for the future.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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