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Researchers Design Plans for Swarms of Tiny Flying Microchips, Promise Not to Use Them for Evil

Summary

Electronic microchips gain new ability: flight.

Images of the designed microfliers.

 

Quotes

Quote

Engineers at Northwestern University have detailed the first ever battery-less microflier design. An article published by Nature this week lays bare the research and development process of what are being billed as the smallest-ever human-made flying structures, which are planned to eventually function as "large, distributed collections of miniaturized, wireless electronic devices", or swarms, of environmental do-gooders.

They're planned to be able to carry data, scan their surroundings, and provide for wireless communication as well.Potential usages for these swarms are near-infinite: air quality monitoring (and potential interaction with weather formations), airborne disease spread control, automated seed dispersal for agriculture, non-intrusive wild-life monitoring, explosive detection solutions for law enforcement, as massive data dispersal systems...or as mass surveillance mechanisms and tools for biological warfare right out of a Bond movie.

The microchips' powerless design was inspired by the maple tree's free-falling propeller seeds — samara fruit. These chips don't have controllable boosters or anything of the like. Instead, the tiny electronics are moved and sustained on air currents by physics alone. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call them gliders rather than microfliers, but we're not Northwestern researchers.However, should this sort of technology be pushed further and enter active usage, what of all the electronic detritus?

Should clouds, swarms of these microfliers just fall towards the ground to lay crushed beneath our sneakers as we run towards the Metro? Well, it so happens that Notrtwestern University has also had research done into transient electronics - electronics that are biodegradable in nature after they have finished their intended usage.“

We fabricate such physically transient electronics systems using degradable polymers, compostable conductors and dissolvable integrated circuit chips that naturally vanish into environmentally benign end products when exposed to water,” Roger said. “We recognize that recovery of large collections of microfliers might be difficult. To address this concern, these environmentally resorbable versions dissolve naturally and harmlessly.” 

 

My thoughts

Honestly, this is quite interesting and remarkable. Tiny gliding microchips (yes, apparently universities are now into clickbait) that can be used for  a variety of things. There's absolutely NO Way that these can be used for Nefarious purposes (apart from the relatively harmless tinkerings of Former evil scientist Dr. Doofemshmirtz). Jokes aside tho, this can be used for good, and also for bad. This can help monitor the environment but can just as easily monitor people. So, make of it what you will, but I'm honestly impressed. But we'll have to wait and see the use cases that these are used for irl. Maybe this can inspire some more inovation too, who knows.

Sources

Tom's Hardware

Northwestern University

Nature.com

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Now companies will have a whole new level of almost invisibly spying on you.

 

Jokes aside, that's pretty cool. The battery-free aspects they mention is neat and sounds very useful for use as e.g. long-term weather sensors just flying around. Maybe they could be useful to study ocean currents? Although this might be pretty polluting in a particle sense.

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No its just the university trying to make the news or someone wanting a promotion

 

These things...

  • No control surfaces
  • No lift generation capability after descent
  • Not enough power for effective wireless communication
  • Probably not able to house any meaningful apparatus within its size

Please take your "those could be possible in future" elsewhere

Thanks

 

I was promised consumer grade flying cars

Awareness is key. Never enough, even in the face of futility. Speak the truth as if you may never get to say it again. This world is full of ugly. Change it they say. The only way is to reveal the ugly. To change the truth you must first acknowledge it. Never pretend it isn't there. Never bend the knee.

 

Please quote my post in your reply, so that I will be notified and can respond to it. Thanks.

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I want something like this for pollinating plants. It'd make indoor growing a lot easier if I didn't have to also worry about keeping a bunch of wild/solitary bees alive.

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9 hours ago, Beskamir said:

I want something like this for pollinating plants. It'd make indoor growing a lot easier if I didn't have to also worry about keeping a bunch of wild/solitary bees alive.

But what if they're "murder chips"? 🤔

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Ah yes, it can have neat use, but also a lot of bad use.

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2 hours ago, Doobeedoo said:

Ah yes, it can have neat use, but also a lot of bad use.

More like no practical use if you read my earlier post

Awareness is key. Never enough, even in the face of futility. Speak the truth as if you may never get to say it again. This world is full of ugly. Change it they say. The only way is to reveal the ugly. To change the truth you must first acknowledge it. Never pretend it isn't there. Never bend the knee.

 

Please quote my post in your reply, so that I will be notified and can respond to it. Thanks.

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i want to buy some. I promise I'll not use them to spy at girls next door.

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