Scientists use ‘bug movie theater’ to create new military tech

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Game-changing technology for Air Force pilots is being created in Huntsville and get this: it involves putting bugs in a virtual reality.

UAH and Polaris Sensor Technologies are teaming up to make the technology mimic nature. They’re working on something that’s never been done before and the end result could be a new, safer navigation system for the people protecting the country.

How do you navigate when your GPS system fails you and its your mission as an Air Force pilot to defend the country? Scientists are creating a way around this problem with the help of the little crawly, unlikely allies.

“Imagine being able to build a movie projector, but instead of for humans with the wavelengths and the colors and the polarization that we don’t notice,” said Amy Kransteuver with Polaris.

Yep, they’re creating a movie theater for bugs! And one that’s more like virtual reality to trick them.

“You have to make the insect think that it’s outside and behave like it were outside,” said UAH Physics Professor Don Gregory.

It’s all about figuring out how insects see polarization and applying it to Air Force technology, something completely new. The scientists say the military is often dependent on GPS technology and this could eventually be an alternative.

“It’s a big focus for the military right now and it’s an important area,” Kransteuver said. “That’s where we need to go to be able to function in all environments. If the enemies want to impair our systems right now you jam our GPS or sometimes you’re just naturally in a GPS-denied environment.”

Protecting the country doesn’t always mean big, shiny equipment. Local scientists are keeping it small so the impact of keeping military pilots safe will be big.

The experiment is being funded by a $1 million grant from the Air Force. 

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