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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Don't Swat It! It Cost the U.S. Taxpayer Six Million Bucks 

We have in the past shown an unwholesome fascination with all sorts of cutting-edge weaponry, including the Active Denial System (ADS), the Pulsed Energy Projectile (PEP), and the aphrodisiac gas (sorry -- no initials) designed to make enemy soldiers drop their pants and start humping each other in the heat, as it were, of battle. Now we are gratified to learn that our ingenious friends at DARPA have turned their talents from buggery to bugging, and have come up with a witty and original approach to same that is certain to delight punsters young and old: real bugs. From the May issue of Harper's (not, alas, online):
DARPA seeks innovative proposals to develop insect-cyborgs, possibly enabled by intimately integrating microsystems within insects during early stages of their metamorphosis. The final demonstration goal is the delivery of an insect within five meters of a target located one hundred meters away, using electronic remote control and/or global positioning system. The insect must remain stationary either indefinitely or until otherwise instructed and be able to transmit data from relevant sensors, yielding information about the local environment. These sensors can include gas sensors, microphones, video, etc. Although flying insects are of great interest (e.g., moths and dragonflies), hopping and swimming insects could also meet final demonstration goals.

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