Researchers Lay Groundwork for Remote-Controlled Cyber-Moths

A moth is suspended in a device that tracks and controls its flight.
A moth is suspended in a device that tracks and controls its flight.Alper Bozkurt / North Carolina State University

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Researchers are using a novel method to better understand how moths' nervous systems work, with the ultimate goal, they say, of controlling their flight. "The idea would be to attach sensors to moths in order to create a flexible, aerial sensor network," said North Carolina State University professor Alper Bozkurt, who led the research. But first scientists have to know how moths themselves do it, which means tapping into their flight muscles. The team carefully attached electrodes to moths that were still in their pupal form, and when the creatures emerged and began using their wings, the signals sent to the muscles were recorded. This video shows the process of hooking up and testing the moths. By carefully documenting the signals associated with different flight patterns, it may be possible to reproduce them. Bozkurt confirmed to NBC News that the team has induced turns, or "yaw maneuvers," before — though they're far from producing full-on mothbots.



— Devin Coldewey