Electrical Engineering
      and Computer Sciences

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences


UC Berkeley


Research Projects

Remote neuronal flight control of insect flight


Michel Maharbiz and Hirotaka Sato

Despite major advances, performance of micro air vehicles (MAV’s) is still limited in terms of size, payload capacity, endurance, and controllability. Various species of insects, among them flies (diptera), moths (lepidoptera), dragonflies (odonata) and beetles (coleoptera) have as-yet unmatched flight capabilities and increasingly well understood muscular and nervous systems. Additionally, some of these insects undergo complete metamorphosis making them amenable to implantation and internal manipulation during metamorphosis. In light of this, we attempt to create implantable bio-interface to electrically stimulate nervous and muscular systems of an alive insect to jack its flight control. Our first target is beetle for the insect platform, and we call it 'cyborg beetle'. As insect platform for cyborg beetle, we employed three different sized beetles: Cotinis texana (2 cm, 0.3 g payload), Mecynorhina torquata (7 cm, 1.8 g payload) and Megasoma elephas (20 cm, 4.0 g payload). Smaller one navigates into tiny spots while larger one carries heavier extra instruments (ex. miniaturized camera). Our neural stimulator consisted of a microcontroller and a microbattery, both of which were mounted on dorsal thorax of the beetles. The microcontroller was connected with wire electrodes whose another terminals were inserted into left and right compound eyes (optic lobes). After systematic survey for appropriate flight-control-signals, our neural stimulator achieved initiation, cessation, elevation and turn control. All the flight control movies will be demonstrated by the poster.