Scientists Are Making RoboBees

first_img Bees are dying. We’ve been hearing about it for literally years. And while there’s been some progress in terms of conversation, an intrepid group of scientists aren’t holding their breath for a solution.The problem is that bees are what’s known as a keystone species. Like the keystone of an arched bridge, the entire rest of the structure of the ecosystem rely on them. Bees pollinate thousands of different plants — particularly crops. And without them, we’d need to spend trillions of dollars each year just to make sure we have enough food to eat.The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan are working on drones that could help take some of that pressure off of our bumbly friends. They wouldn’t be able to do all of the work themselves, but it’s a step.“TV programs about the pollination crisis, honey bee decline, and the latest robotics emotionally motived me,” chemist Eijiro Miyako told Gizmodo. “I thought we urgently needed to create something for these problems.”Miyako created a special adhesive gel that, when attached to animal hairs allows 2-inch remote-controlled drones to pick up and drop off pollen just like a bee. The team’s paper, published in the most recent issue of Chem, says that more research needs to be done (as always), but that this is a huge step in the right direction.The team says that their drones are still really hard to maneuver, which isn’t at all surprising, and they’ve only tested one type of flower so far. Given that there are 20,000 species of bees that services many, many more pollinating plants, we’ve got some time to go before we have a viable replacement for our black-and-yellow friends. And even then, each drone runs about $100. Replacing even a small portion of real bees with our artificial pollinators would be tremendously expensive, and is why it’s always better to address conservation and environmental problems before they become critical. Stay on target Watch: Drone Captures Incredible View of Sheep on Colorado PeakGeek Pick: DJI RoboMaster S1 Is an Educational Land Drone last_img read more