Scientist have programed locusts to sniff out the various different chemicals typically used by terrorist groups for bomb-making – as well as military explosives TNT and RDX.
Research from scientists, who received funding by the US Navy, revealed in a paper published in BioRxiv, that the insects were able to properly detect gases released by substances such as ammonium nitrate. The findings were noted by the New York Post in a piece published Tuesday. (RELATED: Cruise Line Buys Loch Ness Monster Insurance)
— New York Post (@nypost) February 18, 2020
Scientist analyzed the insects neural activity around the different chemicals and found the bugs could tell the “explosive vapors” from the “non-explosive chemical species” after they had implanted electrodes into the tiny insects brains. (RELATED: Police Take Parrot Into Custody After It Tries To Help Drug Dealers Escape)
According to the report:
The robot-bound locusts were exposed to five different explosives and it only took 500 milliseconds of exposure for a distinct pattern of activity to appear in the locusts’ brains. The scientists chose locusts because their tiny antennae are filled with about 50,000 olfactory neurons.
Researchers also explained that the insects were the perfect choice because “they are sturdy and can carry heavy payloads.”
Lead scientist, Baranidharan Raman, associate professor of biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Washington University at St. Louis, shared his optimism of the project when they got the grant back in 2016.
“We expect this work to develop and demonstrate a proof-of-concept, hybrid locust-based, chemical-sensing approach for explosive detection,” Raman told The Source at the time.
The US Office of Naval Research gave $750,000 for the project.