Insects become fly-on-the-wall spies with tiny cameras, radio controls and microphones

UK Daily Mail
Saturday, March 8, 2008

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction - beetles, rats and sharks turned into cunning spies courtesy of a brain implant or two.

But such scenarios are fast moving from fantasy to fact, with laboratories around the world hatching a new breed of spy.

Moths, beetles, rats, pigeons and sharks have been installed with electrodes, batteries and even video cameras in an attempt to create the ultimate spook.

This week's New Scientist reports: "The next time a moth lands on your window sill, watch what you say.

"It may look like an innocent visitor, irresistibly drawn to the light in your room, but it could actually be a spy - one of a new generation of cyborg insects with implants wired into their nerves to allow remote control of their movement.

"Be warned, flesh-and-blood bugs may soon live up to their name."

Such mechanised animals, or cyborgs, have many advantages over robots. Sharks, moths and rats, for example, have an amazing sense of smell that allows them to detect the faintest traces of chemicals.

And if you can hide the controls within the creature's body, it would be virtually indistinguishable from any other animal - and so the perfect spy.

Chief among the cyborg inventors is the U.S. military, with its research bureau ploughing money into projects from remote-controlled rats to battery-operated beetles.

VIDEO: Watch the research footage of the locomation control of a moth in the lab