Watch a Genetically Modified Cyborg Dragonfly Take Flight For The First Time

Jun 3 2017 -- 10:00 AM

Earlier this year, we learned about DragonflEye, a project from biomedical solutions company Draper that aims to turn dragonflies into genetically modified insect cyborgs that wear energy-harvesting solar backpacks and are completely under human control. Basically, they're looking to collaborate with mother nature on the smallest, most-nimble drone around, which we can operate via pulses of light to the dragonfly’s nerve cord that allow us to control the insect's steering neurons.

In February, the technology was still in more of a conceptual stage and hadn't been tested on actual dragonflies. Now, just a few months later, we have video footage of DragonflEye in action.

In the clip above, we can see a real dragonfly being fitted with the device and proof that it's able to actually fly. The video doesn't do much to prove that its flight is human-controlled, but it's also just a 30-second teaser clip, so we're sure there's more to come.

“DragonflEye is a totally new kind of micro-aerial vehicle that’s smaller, lighter and stealthier than anything else that’s manmade,” Draper biomedical engineer Jesse J. Wheeler said when announcing the project. “This system pushes the boundaries of energy harvesting, motion sensing, algorithms, miniaturization and optogenetics, all in a system small enough for an insect to wear.”

What sorts of purposes can you imagine DragonflEye being used for? Surveillance? Farming? Checking if whatever's in the microwave is almost done because getting up is a lot to ask sometimes? Fire off some ideas in the comments below!

Featured image: Draper