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Robotic bugs set to invade battlefield

It may seem like science fiction but could soon be a reality, for scientists are developing a series of electronic spiders, snakes and other insects that might become the latest tools for troops to spot enemies.

world Updated: May 04, 2008 17:43 IST

Imagine robotic insects tracking down enemy fighters in rugged mountain terrains, carrying out explosions and identifying nuclear or biological weapons.

It may seem like science fiction but could soon be a reality, for scientists are developing a series of electronic spiders, snakes and other insects that might become the latest tools for British and American troops to spot enemies.

Prototypes small enough to sit on a fingertip have already been created, including a fly that weighs less than an ounce and has a wingspan of 1.18 inches. Lightweight carbon joints allow the robot to mimic the movements of a real fly.

According to Steve Scalera, Programme Manager for the project at British defence giant BAE Systems, "We're trying to harness nature's designs. Evolution has done a fabulous job of producing extremely efficient and capable systems.

"We're building a collection of miniature robots that can explore complex terrain we wouldn't normally be able to approach because it is too dangerous.

"This might mean exploring buildings or caves looking for people inside, searching for dangerous items like munitions, chemical, biological or nuclear substances that might be there."