Flying Friends or Privacy Pests?

robotic insects, robot dragonflies

Fitted with cameras, sensors and microphones, robot insects are flying--climbing--crawling--jumping at the chance to assist humans in search, rescue and other hazardous operations.

Robotic insects could also be used for spying.

Could our privacy get stung by robot insects?

In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before a robotic bug is caught spying. Future technologies like flying robot insects, that offer great benefits to humankind, can often be equally detrimental.

Are robotic flying insects secretly patrolling the air right now?

It has been reported that robotic dragonflies were seen hovering over protesters in New York. Is it possible that the technology necessary to enable such an event has been developed?

The flying insect in the picture above being developed by the Harvard Microrobotics Lab, does not have a processor, camera or a battery (it receives power from a wired tether). If it had any of those items, it would be to heavy to fly. Now add the electronics and hardware to remotely control the craft. Then tack on some more electronics to transmit or store video images and the idea of a flying surveillance insect, even one as large as the average dragonfly, seems unlikely using current technology.

How will you know when flying robot insects have left the lab?

As a one-time flyer of remote control aircraft, (and by one-time, I mean I flew RC planes only once), I can tell you that sometimes the little buggers just don't come back. Mechanical breakdowns, hungry birds and clean sliding glass doors are just a few ways to bring down a flying robot insect. So keep an eye on the ground for an oversized dragonfly with a broken wing, cameras for eyes and a retractable antenna sticking out its backside.

Speaking of cameras, didn't any of the protestors who witnessed these dragonspies have a cell phone? What were they protesting, the high price of text messaging? Considering the number of video capable devices that are available today, if there are flying spies buzzing around, we'll catch them on video eventually.

Protecting our privacy and other inalienable rights will become increasing difficult as technology advances. Emerging technologies like flying robotic insects, can have a significant impact on society. We need safeguards in place to protect our rights before these high flying technologies are fully debugged.

Resources and Related Articles

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Dragonfly or Insect Spy?

Are We Being Watched by Flying Robot Insects?

Long Island Hawk Attacks WowWee Dragonfly

Darpa hatches plan for insect cyborgs to fly reconnaissance

Robot Insects Gallery

Insect Spy Drone

How Spy Flies Will Work


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About Jack Hanson

Jack Hanson

Jack is not your typical future technology blogger. As an early baby boomer, he's lost a bit of his bang. Not intending to be cruel, Facebook recently notified him that his schoolmates at General Equivalency Diploma, really want to be friends again. His yearly income averages just above his monthly urges. In spite of that, or because of it, Jack has a lust for living, a thirst for knowledge and a strong desire to contribute to a better future for all.


A nerdy social misfit with a head full of phobias and a quirky sense of humor, his personality has been described as "Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory--without the genious part."


Jack Hanson is solely responsible for the articles, editing and web design of

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