In the near(ish) future we could be using cyborg locusts as sniffer dogs to detect explosives, according to a new proof of concept study. A team showed that locusts could smell different amounts of explosive chemicals in the air to track the location of a bomb, and these detections can be picked up by reading their brain waves.
As clever as we humans like to think we are, nature keeps outdoing us with better versions of our own inventions. So why reinvent the wheel when we can just build on natural versions of these instruments instead? Sniffer dogs are one of the most common examples, with their powerful noses picking up traces of drugs, explosives or other contraband. But could locusts perform the same kind of job?
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have found a way. Locusts have an incredibly keen sense of smell, and their brain waves produce a certain pattern after they detect a particular scent. Once they’ve been trained to recognize a smell, reading their brain waves could be a solid indicator if the desired smell turns up in a sample or in the environment.