BY: JESSICA BEUKER
It’s a simple truth that humans need honeybees for survival. Without them, plants go un-pollinated and eventually over a third of our food sources will deplete and we’ll starve. It might sound grim, but it’s time to spend less time denying that this will ever happen, and instead focus our efforts on looking to the future.
Now, a new innovative design called the B-Droid is starting to gain some buzz. Part of a four-year project led by University of Technology’s Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering, Rafal Dalewski, the B-Droid is a robotic bee that buzzes between flowers and can pollinate plants. According to Fast Company, if robot bees are successful it will be great news for real bees, as they will no longer need to be transported around the world to pollinate commercial crops.
Bees have been dying at an alarming rate for quite some time now. Habitat loss, disease and colony collapse disorder are just a few of the major issues. Another problem arises when bees need to be transported to pollinate crops, as they often drop dead from exhaustion. While strides are being made to protect the current bee population – according to Collective Evolution, the National Pollinator Health Strategy plans to “restore honeybee colony health to sustainable levels by 2025” – it might not be enough. Scientists have turned to other methods and ways of thinking to try to remedy the problem.
Dalewski’s B-Droid is a drone that contains a small computer and cameras that detect any flowers in the vicinity. According to Fast Company, when robo-bee spots a flower, it moves in, gently brushing pollen from the flower before moving on to the next one and completing the same process. The B-Droid processes images and data quickly and sends them back to the main computer base.
One of the downsides is that the B-Droid can only fly for a few minutes at a time. Another wheeled version of the robot was created as well and can successfully pollinate garlic and strawberries, and can work for up to two hours at a time.
Dalewski hopes to make the robots commercially available within two years.