Birds, bats, and insects are few of the many flying animals. Many researchers are also investigating on how to use technological means to interact and guide animals as they fly. Engineers come up in making dragonflies with tiny, backpack-mounted controllers that issue commands directly to the neurons that controls dragonflies flight path coining the term, DragonflEye.Each DragonflEye uses a technique that makes use of light to transmit signals to neurons, called optogenetics, which gave the researchers the idea to modify dragonfly neurons to make them more light-sensitive. Dragonflies have large heads, long bodies and two pairs of wings that don't always flap in a synchronous manner.Jesse Wheeler is a biomedical engineer that specializes in the design of DragonflEye with the collaboration from Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (CSDL) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). CDSL develops the backpack controller and its components, called optrodes. Optrodes are optical fibers flexible enough to wrap around the dragonfly’s nerve cord to only target the neurons related to flight. On the other hand, HHMI identifies and enhances the “steering” neurons located in the dragonfly’s nerve cord. Wheeler said that the DragonflEye project exceeds the limits of energy harvesting, motion sensing, algorithms, miniaturization, and optogenetics where these ideas can be combined to a single system small enough for the dragonfly to wear.Want to know more about this awesome device? Follow this link!
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