Puff the magic dragonflybot who spies on you and me…



Recently some friends and I were hanging out in the backyard when a very peculiar-looking insect landed on the picnic table we were gathered ’round.

“I’ve NEVER seen that kind of bug before in my LIFE!”

So of course, bug talk ensued…

When the Huz and I first moved to Hockley Valley a couple years back, our new home (actually old home, build in roughly 1895, but new to us) was infested with what we thought were regular old ladybugs, you know, the kind you were proud to sport as fashion accessory when you were five.

As the days went by, we realised that these little bugs were different, and in fact they were most definitely not the kind you were proud to sport as fashion accessory when you were five. More like the kind you ran away from, nursing fresh wounds…

From the University of Kentucky: “One species of lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis, can be a nuisance however, when they fly to buildings in search of overwintering sites and end up indoors. Once inside they crawl about on windows, walls, attics, etc., often emitting a noxious odor and yellowish staining fluid before dying.”

That’s not even the whole wicked truth: “AND THEY BITE NOW!”

So the totally well-informed, non-alcohol fueled consensus seemed to be that climate change was to blame for the survival of these foreign-insect visitors. And you know, I’ve been surviving just fine with that theory up until today, when I read this in Popular Science’s newsletter:

Are We Being Watched by Flying Robot Insects?

Now, this is pretty weird. Rumors have been floating around the Net for a while now speculating on whether or not tiny, dragonfly-like robots have been covertly monitoring recent political demonstrations and protests around Washington, D.C., and New York. Numerous protesters at multiple events have reported seeing the helicopter-like insectoid entities, fueling suspicion that something sneaky was afoot. Yesterday the Washington Post brought the story mainstream in the interests of solving the case. What did they discover?

Basically, if the claims are true, someone has made great (and secret) strides in the field of robots capable of mimicking insectoid flight—something that’s currently incredibly difficult to do. Research teams at universities across the country including Caltech, Vanderbilt and Harvard, are all trying to reproduce insect-like flight in a man-made robot—some of them even for the intended purpose of surveillance. None, however, have gotten anywhere near the sophistication required to engineer the minuscule, agile critters described by the protesters.

Read the full article.

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