Science & Technology
Scientists to use locusts to sniff out bombs
By T.K. Randall
July 7, 2016 · 1 comment
Locusts are equipped with highly sensitive antennae. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Bernard DUPONT
The migratory pests could end up being turned in to bomb-detection systems for use in war zones.
The research, which comes courtesy of biomedical engineer Baranidharan Raman at the Washington University of St. Louis, has received a $750,000 grant from the US Navy.
The main goals of the project for the moment will be to find an effective way to enable a locust to transmit its findings to its human operators while also making it possible to control where it goes.
"Why reinvent the wheel? Why not take advantage of the biological solution?" Professor Raman wrote in a press release. "That is the philosophy here. Even the state-of-the-art miniaturized chemical sensing devices have a handful of sensors."
"On the other hand, if you look at the insect antenna, where their chemical sensors are located, there are several hundreds of thousands of sensors and of a variety of types."
If all goes well we might one day see bomb-detecting locusts being flown in to help search for hidden explosives in war-torn regions where land mines and IEDs are a constant threat.
Though somewhat bizarre, it's a simple concept with the potential to save dozens of lives.
Source: Christian Science Monitor
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