Imagine if you get a chance to control moths flying in the disaster-hit areas that are dangerous for humans. In fact, if you could remote control a moth to carry out search or rescue operations. Then, of course, this would serve as a big boon for the mankind.
The researchers at North Carolina State University in the United States successfully attached electrodes in a moth while it was in its pupal stage, when the caterpillar is in a cocoon undergoing the metamorphosis.
The researchers said they carried the experiment so as to remotely control the moth’s flight.
The idea behind the experiment is to make moths’ flights completely controllable electronically so that they could be used during disasters in collecting critical information about the region for rescue or search missions.
Detailing the study, the researchers said that the moth’s muscle groups that helped in its flight were attached to the electrodes. This allowed them to observe electromyographic signals, the electric signals that convey moth’s commands to the muscles for its flight.
Lead author Dr Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, said that for mapping these observed electromyographic signals to actual movement, the moth was suspended on a platform levitated by electromagnets. This allowed a certain amount of freedom for the creature to move.
As the moth flew left and right, the muscle signals were recorded by the team to see its coordination in the air. The researchers also kept a track of how such impulses could be fed back into the creature.
Explaining the experiment, Dr Bozkurt said, “By watching how the moth uses its wings to steer while in flight, and matching those movements with their corresponding electromyographic signals, we are getting a much better understanding of how moths maneuver through the air.”
The main aim of the research is to make biological organisms like moths (biobots) completely controlled by humans so that they could be used as per the human need.
“In the big picture, we want to know whether we can control the movement of moths for use in applications such as search and rescue operations,” Dr Bozkurt concluded.
Concluding the study, the researchers said the results could serve as a major breakthrough in developing biobots.
The study was published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments.