Bee : Meet the artificial pollinators of tomorrow
Researchers in Japan have created insect-size drones that pollinate plants to replace — or at least help — real honeybees. The robot pollinators have animal hair on their backs and a special sticky gel that allows them to pick up and release pollen grains. But for now, they’re a long way from pollinating anything outdoors: the tiny drones are not autonomous, and have never been tested outside the lab.
This isn’t the first time scientists create artificial bees. In 2013, Harvard researchers unveiled the RoboBee, a tiny flying robot that can latch onto the underside of any flat surfaces by using static electricity. The artificial pollinators described in today’s study are manually controlled via a remote control. In the future, the researchers hope to use a combination of AI, GPS, and high-resolution cameras to create completely autonomous machines, Miyako wrote in an email to The Verge. They will then need to be tested on actual farms to see if they work outside the lab.
If this invention reminds you of that nightmarish Black Mirror episode where robot honeybees are hacked to kill people, don’t worry too much. Miyako says he’s never seen the TV show and he’s against any misuse of the robot bees. “Come on! All of the robots must be used for peace, right?”