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Manipulating moths in the name of search, rescue and science


In case you needed any more proof that we live in the future, just know that we're slowly inching toward the advent of remote-controlled, sensor-laden moths. (Moths, for the record, are constantly being tinkered with.) As it turns out, the rationale for creating a widespread network of connected, flying insects is more nuanced than just "Because we can." North Carolina State University's Dr. Alper Bozkurt says his team wants to know if they can steer moths through the air to help with search and rescue and post-disaster operations, and the first step toward getting there is sticking electrodes into moth pupae before they fully metamorphose. Alas, the team's still a ways off from achieving their dream - at this point, those electrodes are used to wireless collect information about how moths uses their muscles to flutter through the air. Still, Bozkurt is hopeful that by gaining a better understand of how moths fly, the team will eventually be able to learn how to manipulate those muscles and convert a moth into a tiny living drone.

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