back to article Living brain in powerful robot body tech goes live

In a development offering hope to slain hero cops everywhere, Arizona boffins have wired up sensors to a living brain, then connected the hookups to a machine body hugely more powerful than the brain's own. The robotically controlled moth The moth in its enhanced machine body. We're not quite talking Robocop yet, however. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Animal brains

    Animal brains are well adapted to their environment. I would have thought a moth brain would be quite adept at controlling a rotorcraft drone...

  2. andy rock
    Dead Vulture


    f***er can't fly anymore, can it? hardly 'enhanced' then?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    No animals were hurt during this experiment, yeah right.


    I see already growing trend in robotics science where animal activist would have something to say. I is hard to say if them activists are bothered about insects, moskitos or such but if birds have natural talent for flying why shouldnt they ( or rather their brains ) fly planes.

    Should have called this article Mothocop anyway.

    Take care.

  4. jonathan keith


    It's certainly not going to be eaten by any bats in the near future though.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What your telling me is...

    A moth that eats tabbaco (I asume by its name) has been give robocop style powers? NOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Our future robot overlords will now have a way to controle us (The smokers at least!). Whats next in this list of dangers? Fitting Hop munching bugs with flame throwers?

    Got to go panic buy Ciggies!

  6. Tim

    Creepy Crawly

    I'm sorry but putting animal brains into robots whether rats, moths or politicians is very creepy.

    I can't help pondering on how frustrated the poor moth (in this case) is at no longer being able to fly.

    Let's face it, all an adult moth (and indeed politician) is interested in is flying towards lights, nectar and reproduction. Nor sure how that model fits in with modern day policing, although I could make a few suggestions. . . anonymously of course.

    Poor Moth.

  7. Paul Darcy

    Pest in a robot

    So as a 4 inch moth its a pest eating crops. Now to the near future the moth is now driving a combine cutting the crops for us thinking its going to get the next crop for itself. Suddenly it dawns "these buggers are using me" then off it trots to the nearest town in its 10ton churning and ripping machine. WOW hollywood needs to script this so we dont fall for it. Whos using who. The scientist thinks he is onto a break through and all the time the queen moth is using mind power to take over the world WOOOOHAHAHAHA!!!!!! B movie time.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rise of the terylene Terminators

    Wardrobes around the world will never be safe again!

  9. chuckufarley Silver badge

    Where do sign up?

    With the current state of medical science and (especially) the ineptitude of medical "professionals" I would like to sign my name on the dotted line. I am sure at some point in the next 30 to 50 years my liver will give out and I can't think of a better way to deal with the inability to imbibe than to become a Cybermen and enslave meatbags the universe over.


    Coat. Hat. Pub. Upgrade Centre #223.

  10. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Offensive Departments.

    I think you'll find the Pentagon have already cornered the Market in the Bio-Mechanical Paranoid Android by Proxy Poxy Programming. IT isn't a Life though as it isn't yours to Control.

    A Remote Temporal Cortex Lobotomy for Cannon Fodder, Visualised and Virtualised, and Performed on the Innocent and Naive. One Dumb Mother/Son of a Bitch of a Program/New World Order Project.

    One would have thought that they would have far Greater and Beta Things to do with their Time in this Place/on this Space.

    They'll certainly be offered no Place for such Shenanigans in this Space...... and the idea of them setting up Bases in CyberSpace is QuITe Ridiculous although as a Simulator for BetaTesting of Proposed and Supposed 42BReal Down-to-Earth Life Systems, IT would certainly have a Worth.

    The Trick is to Ensure Positive rather than Negative Value

  11. MattW


    these evil hybrids should be filed under ROTM?

  12. Andrew Moore



  13. Kane
    Black Helicopters

    As I'm sure other people have commented before....

    ...It seems it's about time we had another category - Rise Of The Animals.

    See, as a pure research thing, I understand. But otherwise, why would you do this? Advancement for Cybernetic development?

  14. Slappy
    Black Helicopters

    New overlords?

    I for one welcome our new cybernetically enhanced insect overlords.

    Why does this story give me mental images of thousands of these bug-bots descending onto a field of tobacco, to the tune of Ride Of The Valkyries?

    dumdumdededumdum dumdededumdum dumdededumdum dumdededum

    See what you've done reg? I'll never get that f'kin tune out of my head now :(

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Good brain choce

    I wonder what would have happened if they had used Tina Farrells brain?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Junk science, or simulated science?

    From the picture it looks like it might just go round in circles if you poked it with a finger. There's much more impressive stuff from the 18th century in London's Science Museum - glass case loads of it. So would this be a significant contribution to cybernetic engineering or to the sociology of cybernetics?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    management Brains?

    Plenty of useless "brains" in here -- management, HR and marketing have loads of lovely brains.

    maybe not quite as good as a moth though.

  18. bluesxman

    RE: No animals were hurt during this experiment, yeah right

    "if birds have natural talent for flying why shouldnt they ( or rather their brains ) fly planes."

    Based on the amount of birds I've seen expressing this natural talent by braining themselves on patio windows, I going to say "no thanks!"

  19. b166er
    Paris Hilton

    Mothocopter does Paris

    Maybe Ms Hilton could step up as a volunteer for borging. She could be rolled out(over) in Hilton hotels worldwide as a 'maid' ;p

  20. Anonymous Coward

    They're doing what?

    "...Professor Charles Higgins and his colleagues ... have chosen for the *nonce* to use the brain of a moth, still mounted in its moth body."

    Um, they're making cyber-paedophiles?

    I for one will... get my coat.

  21. T. Harrell

    Why not birds?

    When doing research on animals, there is often an astounding amount of paperwork and ethical review involved. The benefit of the research is weighed carefully against the amount of harm done on the animal. As it stands, little research that harms animals is allowed at all. The line for this paperwork and review is drawn at whether or not the animal the animal has a spine (roughly). Insects are free game to do anything to without ethics committee review, while birds, frogs, and monkeys require the review.

    As a caveat, I believe the paperwork requirement is tied to U.S. Federal funding, so private research or private business operations are immune.

  22. Sweep

    Tobacco eating moths

    The moth won't eat tobacco plants, the caterpillar will, however.

    Maybe this is the next move for the anti-smoking lobby- cyborg caterpillars to eat the plants, and if that doesn't work we'll be attacked by kamikaze moths as we stand out in the open outside pubs.

    Won't somebody think of the children?

  23. Paul

    Oh great - RoboPest

    As if insects aren't bloody annoying enough already without giving them great big robotic bodies.

    "Waiter! Waiter! My soup's on this fly!"

  24. Andy Bright

    I only know one thing..

    I may not be a hero cop, but I'm coming back as a robot - where do we sign up?

  25. Brian Miller

    Don't use a moth for 'copters

    Think a moment: A moth is used to run a helicopter. Remember how moths are attracted to light? Right. The hacks who came to cover the event would attract Robo-Mothra with their camera flashes and it would be an unmitigated disaster. Plus, MechaMothra could only be used during the daytime.

  26. LaeMi Qian

    Just hope they don't robotise the (im)famous...

    ...Aussie bush fly.

  27. Rick Brasche
    Thumb Down

    what a crock

    by this logic, my car is a "cyborg". bug wiggles, machine follows. The bug is just the pilot. I guess the difference is whether or not the pilot is inserted into the device willingly?

    That'd make all vehicles ever driven by conscript or drafted soldiers cyborgs or robots too.

  28. E

    The rat brains have it

    Lester reported some time ago on IIRC an organic neural net grown from rat brain cells being used to control an aircraft. The rat brain cells apparently did well.

    So, what would you rather have controlling your autonomous airborne weapons platform: a moth or a blastula of rat brain cells? I vote the rat.

  29. Chris Fleming


    Help I'm mothless. Where am I? arrrhhh wot's the point...

  30. Ian Ferguson

    I for one...

    ...welcome our new high-tech moth-brained robo-stomping mechanized overlords.

  31. Anonymous Coward


    I cannot fear the consequences of what these researchers are doing. Just look at that thing :-D

    I see pieces from my old Mechano set, batteries held on by rubber bands, variously coloured bits of electrical tape, scraps of wood, and isn't that the poor old moth mounted on the end of a pencil with masking tape?

  32. Maksim Rukov

    What began as a conflict...

    ...over the transfer of consciousness from flesh to machine escalated into a research project which has decimated over a million Lego Mindstorm kits.

    On an unrelated note, they should use moth brains in a new DARPA driverless vehicle challenge. Just make sure they can't turn on their hi-beams, otherwise there may be quite a few head-on collisions.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enemy defence...

    ...would be so easy if these things are given weapons and deployed. All they'd have to do is string up a bunch of those UV insect killers across the border.

    <target sighted>


    <target confirmed>


    <pretty light>


    <pretty pretty ligh- kzzzeerrtt!>


  34. John Benson

    we're the bot, not the moth (and why)

    Check out Dan Dennett's talk about memes, an updated take on ideas as viruses that infect us and then use us to replicate:

    At least the poor moth hasn't had his firmware messed with. We get ours tweaked all the time. Let's see, what day is it today? Are the Afghans our noble freedom-fighter allies against godless Roosky communists or are the Rooskies our noble allies against Afghan terrorists?

    If we ever do replace the moth à la RoboCop, you can be sure that it will only be after some very heavy-duty "programming" (also eerily fortold in RoboCop). Until then, cultures and other systems will have to be content with replacing our natural powers of observation and reasoning with their favorite moths/memes in order to constrain and control our bodies/bots.

    Kind of brings a new meaning to the word "debugging", doesn't it?

  35. rasputinsDog

    If they use this technology for house flies. . .

    then I'm gonna need a new flyswatter.

    RoboFly:Drop it!

    Me:This isn't a fly swatter. It just looks like one.

    RoboFly: Dead or alive your food is mine!

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