And then the Lord told Moses he would send a plague of cyborg locusts on the land of Egypt, mainly to piss off Pharaoh, but also to make sure there were no plastic explosives lurking about.
At least, that's how this biblical classic might have gone had the engineers of Washington University, Missouri, had their way.
They've begun to conduct tests with cybernetically-enhanced locusts, taking advantage of the insect's nose, to create what they hope could be the future of bomb sniffing tools.
It turns out that locusts are really good at "sensing chemicals", an equivalent to our own sense of smell.
"Why reinvent the wheel?" said research lead Baranidharan Raman. "Why not take advantage of the biological solution? That is the philosophy here. Even the state-of-the-art miniaturized chemical sensing devices have a handful of sensors. On the other hand, if you look at the insect antenna, where their chemical sensors are located, there are several hundreds of thousands of sensors and of a variety of types."
By implanting cybernetics in the brain of the insect, the team hope to monitor its neural activity and decode the odorants it encounters when it wanders around. From there, the team will use a "plasmonic tattoo made of a biocompatible silk" (we're not making this up) in order to control the locusts movement remotely.
"We expect this work to develop and demonstrate a proof-of-concept, hybrid locust-based, chemical-sensing approach for explosive detection," said Raman.
We stopped listening at "hybrid locust" mate. Any chance you could make us a little squad that fetches snack from the fridge on command?
[Via: Washington University]