Scientists in Russia are trying to combine rats with technology to create cyborg rodents that could be used in counter-terrorism operations and rescues. The idea is to implant a microchip into a rat's brain that would sense the mammal's reaction to drugs and bombs. The chip would then notify the rat's handler, like "sniffer" dogs currently do (video below).
"Unlike a dog, a rat can get through the smallest crack where it seems it couldn't go," Dr. Dmitry Medvedev, who is heading the research team behind this technology, told the Daily Mail. "This way it could find its way deep under rubble and by its brain activity one could understand if there are, for example, people who are still alive, if it's worth clearing debris here or at another place, to rescue people more quickly."
However, a major problem is that rats live for about a year, and it takes two to three months to train a rat to sniff out drugs and bombs, which means scientists will have to constantly train large groups of rats, according to Sputnik News, a news wire controlled by the Russian government.
Currently, the Russian scientists are studying the brainwaves of rats and trying to create algorithms that correlate with their sense of smell.
"We can't use very young rats, and the old ones have already lost their sense of smell," Medvedev added.