The CIA's 1970s-era "Insectothopter" spy drone


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/10/the-cias-1970s-era-insecto.html


#2

INSANE DIRECTOR: I want bugs that are actual bugs!
ENGINEERS: . . .wait, what? No, that’s a terrible idea, a slight gust of wind would cause-
INSANE DIRECTOR: Dragonflies! Those things freak me out! Can’t you just see some ruskie being unsettled by the giant dragonfly zooming in on him? They won’t think their being listened to, they’ll just be swatting the air around their heads! Cancel whatever else you’re doing and get me a prototype now!
ENGINEERS: sigh Okay guys, scrap the transistor squirrel and let’s get to work.


#3

Came here just to reinforce the Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy shout-out. I still remember reading that book in 4th grade and being blown away!


#4

The best part is that you can buy 7 cm flying drones equipped with cameras and video transmitters for about $35 these days… The goggles are extra, but not much extra.


#5

they didnt really have the same MEMs technology we have now… imagine the shit they can make these days. must be almost indistinguishable from real insects

sandia.gov


#6

The 1957 novel The Glass Bees by German author Ernst Jünger may add some perspective to the idea.


#7

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hated_in_the_Nation_(Black_Mirror)


#8

I read a lot of those Danny Dunn books back then, and I honestly can’t remember ANY of them except for that one.

As I recall, the CIA tries to steal it and they fly the bug into some kind of flame to destroy it.


#9

#10

Yeah I am pretty sure I read it as well. Its use of telepresence was the most significant part of the story for me.


#11

#12

achieved flight in a few tests

so does a rock when you throw it


#13

DARPA really needs to fund a crash program to develop powerpoints that don’t suck; because theirs do; but they were apparently sufficiently unimpressed by even more recent mechanical options vs. insects to be exploring the possibility of cribbing the cheap, high-performance, mature design by implanting larvae with the necessary electronic components to produce cyborg insects. A clever plan, if it can be made to work.

(Edit: probably worth noting that the linked document is a decade old at this point; so while some of it may have foundered on unexpected difficulty; whatever does work probably works a lot better now)


#14

thats a frightening concept… whats that wasp that lays eggs inside their prey that then hatch and eat the paralyzed host


#15

The Tarantula Hawk wasp is probably the most iconic(cool name, scary coloration, direct inspiration for the Cazadores in Fallout: NV); but there are a fair number of wasp species that do that. “Parasitoid” is your cue that the insect in question isn’t parasitic itself; but would probably like to paralyze you with an elegant and surprisingly selective venom so that its ravenous larvae can devour your helpless body(saving the vital organs for last, because if you die you start to spoil, which is a problem).

As for DARPA and parasitism, it’s definitely a good sign that one of their slides contains the phrase:

Insight: Eliminate unnecessary biology using MEMS


#16

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