You can imagine doing surgery on the brains of insects or spiders to implant electronic devices and transmitters so that it becomes a drone and will transmit data. To gain intelligence on a target of interest one could release a large numbers of such spiders nearby and steer them to locations of interest.

  • $\begingroup$ I would prefer using a bird or a lizard out basically any other larger creature. $\endgroup$ – Aarthew III Mar 21 '16 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ Would it make more sense to create a spider with what you are looking for instead of hacking into a live one? It would be a lot easier and a whole not more feasible. $\endgroup$ – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 22 '16 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 As I understand it, with current technology, an artificial spider with similar "intellectual" capabilities as a real spider would take a large computer to control, so the processing unit would be too large by an order of magnitude to fit in the spider itself. That's why I thought that hacking into the brain of the spider might be more feasible at present. $\endgroup$ – Count Iblis Mar 22 '16 at 2:47
  • $\begingroup$ I would use a fly over a spider, they pretty much have 360 degree vision so assuming you are getting video signal from their eyes you see pretty much everything and they're almost impossible to kill. I mean really you don't even have to try to kill a spider but a fly? Those things are almost impossible to hit! $\endgroup$ – codescape Mar 22 '16 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ @CountIblis The problems you are facing with your setup are orders of magnitude more difficult. Take for instance, tapping into the (low resolution) spydie eyes. That would take much more computational power than simple command and control of a drone. (We have yet to do that task, where as we have made machines that walk [very sorta]). $\endgroup$ – Aron Mar 23 '16 at 2:24


"Feasible" parts (not that it has actually been done, but could be considered true if someone told the world he has).

  • Connecting an electrode to an spider glanglia to force it to move where you want it to go.

Unfeasible parts

  • Communications. The small size of the spider means that there is little place for an antenna. Emissions would be very short ranged unless you use LOTS of power (see next point).

  • Power. There is no battery technology that would provide a power source for the electronnics on the spiders for a decent (3 - 4 days) time range.


  • You may direct the spider, but most probably you cannot "tune in" with the spider senses to know what the spider sees and or hears (even if you "connect" the right ganglia, the signal will be meaningless because the sensory organs are very different). You will need additional video and sound hardware tiny enough to fit in a spider. And power those up with the same battery as above.

Basically, short range of communications and battery life means that the spiders will only be useful if the ISIS HQ happens to be almost next door to you (and if that is the case, drones and troops on the ground would do a better job).

  • $\begingroup$ so in summary, not with current technology, but certainly a possibility in the future. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Mar 22 '16 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ Yes... main issue would be the battery life. $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Mar 22 '16 at 18:54

Ooh. Fun question.. And weirdly the answer is a...


Cyborg moths are a thing, as are cyborg cockroaches, so we know that we have the technology not just for control of the insects, but also for carrying sufficient power to contact a base station and adding in some small sensing capability (though the spiders aren't the ones doing the sensing). These drones could be used as one shot wonders, going in, gathering data, then using up their remaining power bursting a (reasonably stong) radio transmission back to wherever they came from before finding a nice dark corner (a behaviour already hardwired into most spiders) and curling up to die.

It's also worth noting that 'go into the light' and 'hide' can be effected using chemicals delivered into the spider, letting you offload a lot of processing to the spider while you passively listen for information.

This could be further enhanced by having a larger, more powerful spider 'nest' that serves both as a delivery vehicle and an intermediate data storage unit. The spiders are released, record information, are occasionally controlled via signals relayed through the nest (or if you want a passive system they record, die, and then the nest is picked up later for hard data-retrieval). If you include a solar recharge station in the nest you could even have the spider drones coming back to the nest for recharging (potentially via an inductive loop system in their underbellies).

The two biggest problems are robustness and stealth. Most spiders aren't as robust as moths or cockroaches, so mounting the hardware might prove to be an issue on any species small enough to not be noticed. Oh, and PCB's aren't exactly well camouflaged, so you'd have to work on that.

Other than that you've got a multitude of options. Enjoy your cyberentemology!

  • $\begingroup$ The issue with "gathering data" is that a) you leave the spider uncontrolled until you get the communication back and b) you cannot send three-four hours of data in a burst, and obviously the spider cannot tell what is important and what is not. You need to continuously monitor the spiders to send them where you want, and to know where you want them. $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Mar 22 '16 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ @SJuan76: Depends an awful lot on the quality of the data. Low sampling rate audio can easily be compressed and sent. 8Kbps audio comes in at 60 KB per minute, so we need 0.05 seconds transmission time to send a minute of audio (with no compression, using low speed data over radio). That's assuming our spiders record at all times rather than using any kind of passive capture, which is a really stupid way to build a bug (no pun intended). $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Mar 22 '16 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ @SJuan76: using these bugs as controlled drones is either going to be for incredibly short range, targeted missions (spiders aren't noted for their cross country abilities) or for longer range literal bug saturation missions. In the first case you'll be close enough that you'll be able to use the bug in short bursts of constant communication, in the second you're relying on having hundreds of otherwise passive bugs. These babies could never be effectively used unless you already had a damn good idea where the bad guys were. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Mar 22 '16 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ But that's exactly my point... in order to have the spiders go somewhere useful you have to track them continuously. having the means to send the spider "up" or "down" is not useful unless you know where are they now, and just deploying them and hoping that some of them will, at random, get to a place of interest is too much of a stretch. So you cannot just "let them go and have them transmit back later" because they will not go where you want them to go; you have to steer them and that is impractical. $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Mar 22 '16 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Sjuan: Steering them isn't impractical if you only need them for a short, targeted mission. The option of just deploying a few hundred of them and hoping some of them get to a place of interest isn't actually as much of a crazy idea as you might think. If you know there's a building you want to map out then dropping a Nest on the roof and sending the trigger for 'get into the warm and head downwards' leaves you with a swarm of spiders autonomously heading down the building, listening to everything and periodically relaying it back to you via the Nest. That's pretty useful if you use it right. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Mar 22 '16 at 21:52

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