Why are these locusts wearing backpacks? - KMOV.com

Why are these locusts wearing backpacks?

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Researchers at WashU are using locusts in bomb-detection technology. (Credit: KMOV). Researchers at WashU are using locusts in bomb-detection technology. (Credit: KMOV).

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) - Researchers and engineers from different disciplines at Washington University are coming together to collaborate on research that uses locusts to detect explosives on the battlefield.

Hidden roadside bombs have killed soldiers and civilians in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If all goes well, the locusts could be used to detect the bombs before humans come in contact with them.

Researchers have been able to attach probes to their brains and connect it to a microchip which interprets what smells the locust’s brain registers.  They are also using a nanotechnology tattoo on the wings of the locusts to control the direction that they fly. 

Locusts are appealing due to their keen sense of smell and their ability to detect certain smells.  They are also cheaper and more expendable than a bomb sniffing dog.

The three-year research project is being funded by a $750,000 grant from the Navy.

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