Radio controlled beetle flight footage

cyborg beetle

Earlier this year we were amazed when University of California researchers controlled a beetle via electrical implants. The video available at the time of the original report showed beetles tethered in place while electrical stimuli was applied via the chip. New video of free flight is has now been posted. Although the motion is rather sporadic, it is obvious that simple commands to start flight, stop flight, and turn left or right are having their intended effect. Check out this cyborg action after the break. Is DARPA one step closer to unleashing legions of insect warriors on unsuspecting masses?

[via Popular Science]


  1. Gilliam says:

    Beetle latches onto curtains in protest of its remote control.

  2. Leb says:

    Me, Pinky and the Brain have already done this.

  3. Winston says:

    Now if you could work that onto a locus, you could any individual country at will, (insert evil laugh here).

  4. Terramoto says:

    Someone should get wired to see how it feels…

  5. Caleb Kraft says:

    gotta feel a tiny bit sorry for the little guys. My first thought was actually how many they probably have to go through. They usually don’t live really long in their adult stage and all that thrashing about indoors probably results in frequent broken wings.

    Then again, they are so freaking clumsy on their own we could probably only improve their flight.

  6. Sergio says:

    Ah.. Very useful. I could use for.. ah.. well.. ah.

  7. Mike Mcfarlane says:

    all this research/proof of concept will lead to human trials eventually, thats the ultimate goal right?
    Probably start being deployed in the army after tests have been done in institutes etc.

  8. gringe says:

    So on first reading the article I kind of went “cool”, but I watched the video, and not normally someone who is put of by things such as seeing how my meat is killed and all that…I did feel a bit sorry for the beetle*…I mean no arduino, no twitter…whats a cybernetic beetle got to do round here to get a bit of web presence?

    *It was genuine, but then when I stopped watching it went away which helped me make a funny about it without crying…

  9. bill rowe says:

    this is unspeakably mean. wtf is wrong with these people!

  10. andrew says:

    it’s a beetle, people, relax. what we really need to be worried about is that they didn’t use an arduino.

  11. Brock Lee says:

    I’ve dreamed about this since I was a little kid. Mount a camera on it and send that pig into area 51!

  12. Napalm says:

    bill rowe = PETA

  13. Jack says:

    Oh, Andrew. Thats the funniest thing I’ve heard in months.

  14. amk says:

    I read: Radio Controlled Beetle FIGHT footage. That would be much cooler.

  15. Eric says:

    Title SHOULD have been ‘Real life Beetle Borg’ Anybody else remember that short lived show?

  16. alpha says:

    LAME! I could make a video of a tire rolling down a hill and write “stimulating left muscle” every time it veered left, and obviously the same for the right and claim to be controlling it. And if this IS legit, then it’s even lamer for being so incredibly useless. Just use robots already and stop playing with bugs. wtf! University of California = idiots.

  17. Inventory part of view its really a gud try… but y to try on the live bug.. they could make a an artificial bug with nuts n bolts for some more trial n error.

  18. rotceh_dnih says:

    scary shit if u ask me

  19. Patrick says:

    Sorry, not a fan of animal testing of any type. If you’re gonna test hings, strap it to prisoners and see if it works.

  20. bfo says:


  21. bLuRrEdMaN says:

    this is cruel. i’m just as much a tech fan as the next guy but there’s gotta be a better way than carving up living creatures. surely you don’t have to be a PETA card carrier to see that??

  22. Peter says:

    Ah man, if we humans kill each other, the insects will probably take over the world. Let’s get ‘em now we still can. :P

  23. draeath says:

    alpha: it’s neuroscience, not just robotics.

    Patrick: yea, if we knew enough about how it all works to do that, we would. We’re learning the fundamentals right now, and these beetles have very simple (comparatively) systems.

    You know how nice it is to have modern medicine? Now, do you know what kind of horrors preceded it (by necessity)?

    As well Patrick. At what point does it become cruel? What about the trillions upon trillions of microorganisms we abuse all the time?

  24. T&P says:

    This is stupid that people are putting money into this and why does the military always want stupid sci-fi shit and not go after REAL stuff or why government will spend time on useless research and not REAL research with NASA?
    don’t give a damn about the bug but I would like to see it give twitter updates of what commands it was being given!

  25. hmmm says:

    What they need to do instead of stopping and starting flight is to get the beetle to change altitude on command. Then you’d have some real control instead of just left and right.

  26. razor386 says:

    I would be alot more impressed if they could control the beetle with RF radiation hitting the bug, instead of the lobotomy style they did here.

  27. James says:

    You’ve obviously missed all the previous work on this sort of thing where flies had their heads semi-seperated from their bodies, rotated 180 degrees and bonded back on to see if they got confused and flew left when they meant to go right…

  28. yep says:

    forget cyborg beetles…this only leads to armys of unwilling cyborg soldiers

  29. monkeyslayer56 says:

    @Napalm PETA=people eating taesty anamals :)
    btw cool untill they do it to people…

  30. Dr. Beedor says:

    As a trained and certified beetle doctor, I find this extremely repulsive. Do you know how many beetles have come to me with holes in their heads?

  31. Phrog says:

    Absolutely amazing!

  32. 0x808080 says:

    Someone mentioned testing on prisoners… how do you know this beetle hasn’t dont some horrific things in its life? Things that would land a human being in jail…

  33. wosser says:

    I was very dissapointed, I was hoping to see a small, German rear-engined car with a jet engine and a few servos on it.

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