DARPA strikes again:
An elite squad of real but remote-controlled rats could soon be scouring enemy bases and sniffing out explosives for the US military.
The rodents are directed using a series of brain implants, which can be operated wirelessly from a distance of several hundred metres. Now, for the first time, the researchers behind the project have demonstrated the ability to control the rodents’ movements before activating their “sniffer dog” instincts.
John Chapin and colleagues at the State University of New York, US, say the rats could eventually sniff out hidden weapons or act as remote video sensors for military and police forces.
With colleagues from the University of Florida in Gainesville, US, they have previously shown that brain implants can be used to steer the rats over an assault course, or home in on a particular odour. But combining the two tricks is a significant step towards turning them into useful “robo-rodents”.