North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers have tried to develop a cybernetic moth or biobot that can be electronically controlled. The experts implanted the electrodes into the thorax of a moth by using a novel and reliable methodology called Early Metamorphosis Insertion Technology (EMIT) when it was metamorphosing from a pupal stage into an adult, winged insect. The electrodes helped the researchers to remotely manipulate the flight muscles of the moth and also helped to monitor the electrical signals that were used by the moth to control those muscles. The primary focus of this research is to remotely-control the flights of the moths or biobots so that they can be used in applications such as search and rescue operations.
The wireless platform, which is connected to the moth, is used to collect electromyographic data (a technique which is used to evaluate and record the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles) from the wing movements of the moth. It helped the team in understanding the entire process of moth’s flying. The moth was placed in a platform by suspending it in mid-air with the help of electromagnets and it was also given the freedom to turn left and right. The below video gives the detailed information about the research, that was performed on the moth.
Dr Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, stated that this information is crucial to achieve the objective of creating biobots that can be integrated into a cyberphysical sensor network. And, by attaching the sensors to the moths, they want to create an adaptable, aerial sensor network that can help to identify the survivors at the time of disasters. He also further mentioned that a lot of work is yet to be done in order to make the moth biobot a feasible tool.
The research titled Early Metamorphic Insertion Technology for Insect Flight Behavior Monitoring was published online in the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).