It seems that the Russian President is ready to unleash his latest weapon in the war against terror – an army of cyborg rats.
According to the Daily Mail, Vladimir Putin has Russian scientists working on combining rats with the latest microchip technology, utilising their incredible sense of smell to allow them to sniff out explosives or drugs in places which can only be reached by the very small.
If the scheme is successful, microchips attached to the rats’ heads will be able to alert their handlers to any dangerous or illegal material before the heroic rodents themselves have even had time to register it.
Unfortunately, there is one minor hitch – it takes three months to properly train the rats and they only live for one year.
But the scientists, from Rostov-on-Don, near the border with Ukraine, are undeterred by this and are ploughing ahead with the operation titled ‘Next Generation Warfare’. They hope to harness the rats’ raptor neurons, which give the rodents a better sense of smell than artificial devices or even dogs.
Dr Dmitry Medvedev, who is heading up the team, said:
Unlike a dog, a rat can get through the smallest crack where it seems it couldn’t go. 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.
Programmers are reported to be creating mathematical algorithms to study and understand the results. These will then help scientists to gather data and statistics about the rats’ cerebral reactions to various smells.
This isn’t the first time rodents have been used to detect dangerous materials – the African hamster rat has been used in Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Cambodia and Thailand to detect land mines, Colombia has used laboratory rats for the same purpose, and Israel uses the rodents to check luggage at airports.