Joe’s Science Buzzkills, Episode “Mosquito MAV”

Real or not real?


More after the original post…


Is this a mosquito? No. It’s an insect spy drone for urban areas, already in production, funded by the US Government. It can be remotely controlled and is equipped with a camera and a microphone. It can land on you, and it may have the potential to take a DNA sample or leave RFID tracking nanotechnology on your skin. It can fly through an open window, or it can attach to your clothing until you take it in your home. Given their propensity to request macro-sized drones for surveillance, one is left with little doubt that police and military may look into these gadgets next.

And for all you who automatically say “fake” because you don’t think your glorious government is funding this… do some research.

Actual research paper
Actual footage
Another source
And another

Here’s a photo going around of a supposed micro aerial vehicle modeled after a mosquito, with various scary Big Brother-esque abilities such as taking DNA samples and installing RFID tags in your skin. It’s completely fake, although it’s a very nifty idea. I don’t mean to ruin your fun. I only bust these lies because I love you.

But the original post says I should do some “research” before declaring it fake, so here’s some more info: Although there are RFID tags smaller than the head of a needle, that’s still be larger than the needle shown in this picture. Also, the “sources” listed are to press releases about a lab that takes high speed videos of butterfly flight, like the one I featured last week, and not referring to any “mosquito spybots”.

The current smallest MAV is a recent DARPA project called The Hummingbird (video included at the link), thus named because it is the size and shape of a hummingbird. There’s lots of “artist’s interpretations” and such, like the one above, but wind instability of these tiny imaginary things that have never been built means that they will remain unbuilt for the near to distant future. 

So you and your precious bodily fluids are still safe from tiny robo-insect spy invaders. However, these awesome autonomous bots that play the James Bond theme all by themselves? Totally real, and totally awesome.

Science: busting myths and taking names. Really though, it’s important to make the distinction between fact and fiction in these sorts of situations. Fear-mongering is an often misused tool and it’s good to stop it in its tracks.