Draper's Cyborg DragonflEye Drone Takes Flight

Posted: Jun 1 2017, 10:15am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Draper's Cyborg DragonflEye Drone Takes Flight
A dragonfly modeling the full backpack
  • DragonflEye Drone Gives New Meaning to the Futuristic Word “Cyborg”

A DragonflEye drone built at the Draper and Howard Hughes Medical Institute gives new meaning and significance to the futuristic word “cyborg”. It consists of an attachment of extreme technological complexity on a dragonfly that allows the user to steer it in whatever direction he or she wants to.

The DragonflEye drone that underwent take-off capability in January of this year was not an ordinary drone. It comprised a live dragonfly that was flown using remote control.

According to Draper, "DragonflEye is a drone that uses live dragonflies to fly." Draper researchers created this cyborg dragonfly along with researchers of Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Janelia Research Campus.

A small attachment is placed on its back which contains electronics, sensors and a solar cell to boot. There is a built-in light generation system that powers the solar cell whether there is any sunlight outside or not.

It is basically a GM drone that is a hybrid in the sense that it is part-wetware and part-software in its makeup. The experiment in cybernetics is a microsystem that is meant to overcome inertia.

According to Spectrum IEEE, while the dragonfly is alive, it has also been modified so that the backpack it carries on its rear end is interacting with its nervous system. The very first video clip of this dragonfly drone has been released online for public consumption.

There is a subtle difference between this cyborg of sorts and other similar experiments on insects. This is that it does not hoodwink the insect’s sensing abilities or control its muscular system.

Rather light-based electrodes are used to send signals directly to the nervous system of the dragonfly. The nervous system has been fine-tuned to accept these commands.

The dragonfly can be allowed to fly here, there and everywhere without any damage to its internal anatomy. It will not suffer from burnout like some of the previous insect-machine hybrid experiments.

The project still needs some tweaking before it is ready for the market. Till then the tech freaks are busy feasting their eyes on the video clip which shows the DragonflEye drone doing its aerodynamic duties in a wondrously magical manner.

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