back to article US Air Force studies fruit-flies to build killer insect swarm drones

The US Air Force is engaged in wacky research on fruit flies manoeuvring within a heavily instrumented "simulation tunnel" in order to develop tiny, potentially murderous insect-sized flying robots. According to a statement issued yesterday by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), research underway at in …


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  1. muninsfire


    So I take it that shipments of novelty electric flyswatters to the middle east will be going up, then?

    Does anyone know if Zap-O Novelties is listed on a stock exchange somewhere?

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    The "blow off" is gonna be difficult.

    Not enough oomph in that package. Try a drop of VX.

    Yes, Lem's Upside-Down Evolution is in progress.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    gee wizz

    "Amazing what they can do nowadays"

    No, you are completely wrong, it is scary what they can do these days and what we allow them to get away with. We are all wooed by these kind of gee wizz articles but just think what uses our benevolent leaders will put these device to. Of course they will say its for our benefit and to track down and monitor terrorists, but ultimately they will be able to keep a close eye on any of us.

    Time to stock up with a fly swatter.

  4. Tom 35 Silver badge

    This will of course result

    In the development of robot Orb and Wolf spiders to counter the robot flies.

    1. Anonymous Bastard

      And what then?

      A robot bird to catch the spider? (That wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside 'er?)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Them's just the adversary. The enemy, that's the army!

    This is their way to get back at those groundpounder remote drone pilots, isn't it?

  6. Daniel B.
    Black Helicopters


    I assume none of these boffins have read Michael Crichton's Prey; let's hope they don't actually make them fully autonomous!

    See also: Second Variety

  7. Anomalous Cowturd
    Black Helicopters

    Just one thought springs to mind...


  8. Steven Jones

    Hollywood may be interested

    Why does this feel more like the pitch to a producer for a Hollywood disaster flick? I see the Cyberswarm series, where microbots turn on their erstwhile masters as a sure fire money winner.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I Think They Already Released Such a Fly-Brain

    It Can Already See Russia From It's Backyard !

  10. Neonin
    Thumb Down

    Flight of the Bumblebee

    Does the thought of ANY military with the capability to do this scare the living shit out of anyone else, or is it just me? :|

  11. hplasm Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Interesting times...

    Who knows where this sort of tech will lead society?

    We need the late Sir Arthur C Clarke now- he was always good at extrapolating this sort of thing.

    Anyone care to step up?

  12. Frostbite

    Easily prevented

    .....have they thought about the rolled up newspaper?

  13. jake Silver badge

    Actually ...

    Most flying insects travel from dark to light. Have flies in your house? Close the drapes & open a door. The pests will fly outside. At night, turn out the lights inside & turn on a light outside an open door (car headlights work well). Don't laugh, try it.

  14. Mr_Pitiful


    They ain't gonna get this working in my lifetime.

    Sounds like a promotional video to a blockbuster movie!

    Epic Fail if you ask me

  15. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    RoTM: Hegemonizing Swarms One Day?


  16. Anonymous Coward

    Was the video Wikileaked?

    This isn't something I'd want the whole world to know about.

  17. HRH Martin

    Query to subeditor

    you seem to have deleted the para mentioning DARPA's involvement, please correct and repost.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    That video

    ...sounds like the opening of Patlabor.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    So does that mean one will find future government spying robo-flies bouncing repeatedly against a window behind the shades? If they have metal components the "tink" sound metal makes against glass will be a dead giveaway its a not a real fly, even if they were able to make it look/sound nearly so.

  20. thecakeis(not)alie

    This will lead to breakthroughs.

    Very soon we will have the development of countermeasures: sophisticated sensor technology and precision MASER diodes. Might be the Chinese military pushing it...might be commercial interests worried about industrial espionage. I think this is the first step towards a point-defence energy weapon.

    We start by tracking and frying robot bugs. We move on up to jets, planes and helicopters. Remember kids, you don’t have to vaporise them, merely fry their electronics…

  21. stucs201

    Possible problem

    So if these are modelled on flys does this mean they'll be able to find there way into a building through a half-open window, but completely unable to get back out again?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    In Reality

    ..the Russians have this already. It's called "insects infected with bioagent". Delivery by any sort of covert means like Spetsnats teams in a civil truck full of the bugs.

    Or a low-flying helo coming in under the Radar. Or a a Cessna taking off in St Petersburg, painted with D-EBOLA and releasing the insects over any large town in 2000 kms range. Simply land the aircraft on any suitable piece of grass and come back by train.

    During the cold war there was more than one successful "training run" with helos, Cessnas and even F-4 (Luftwaffe stupidos) very deep into enemy airspace. From both sides.

  23. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  24. Dave Bell

    Scaling Problems

    Biological bugs are feeding all the time. I wonder where these things will be able to recharge.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  25. mhenriday
    Thumb Down

    How fortunate we (humanity) are

    to possess institutions like AFOSR to serve our basic human need to devise ever new means of killing our fellows ! Fortunate, too, that our limited monetary and intellectual resources are devoted to such noble pursuits....


    1. Anonymous Coward


      ..don't take this too serious. This is probably all part of a "science-based information operation", i.e. Good Ol' Propaganda. I have seem more of this here.

      You could see it as something offensive, or it's just one of these funny ideas like SDI, which never work in as advertised in the glossy papers.

      American Scientists are normally on the ethical level of an American Used Car Salesman. For example Mr Marvin Minsky (prominent MIT prof) was claiming he could build a "machine more intelligent than humans" by 2001.

      My assessment is that the MIT can build a Funding Whore by 1994.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Here's hoping they don't sell any to anyone called PJ :o)

  27. TheRealRoland

    Talking about a buzz kill...

    See title...

  28. Max_Normal

    Millenium bug?

    Does look very like the one in the yellow triangle. Wonder if it will be any more potent.

  29. skeptical i

    Didn't they have these in _The Diamond Age_?

    Airborne nanobots for surveillance and other purposes, that is.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    These two articles kind of reinforce each other ... USA is nosediving.

    4 Scenarios for the Coming Collapse of the American Empire

    The demise of the United States as the global superpower could come far more quickly than anyone imagine


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