Will Robo-Bees Save Civilization?

Will Robo-Bees Save Civilization?

Gone are the days when the hovering bumble bee flew abundant in our gardens, fields and meadows. Now, instead of an image that depicts bees as cute cartoony natural wonders more people are realizing that these buzzers are a major component to life as we know it. Without their global pollinating cycle the entire Eco-structure could fall like a disastrous house of cards. Food shortages would be rampant and territorial war imminent.

Business Insider reports that,

“…loss of bees and other species “requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.” Honeybees alone contribute more than $15 billion in value to U.S. agricultural crops each year.”

There are many threats to bee populations such as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Research Services, other “major factors threatening honey bee health can be divided into four general areas: parasites and pests, pathogens, poor nutrition, and sublethal exposure to pesticides [particularly neonicotinoids].”

As efforts continue to figure out ways to remedy this array of threats to bees, other researchers are taking the bee’s lead and morphing its natural design into a robotic one.

A Wyss Effort

Researchers from the Wyss Institute, Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) in collaboration with scientists from Northeastern University have finally developed the technology to manufacture one of the smallest, lightest micro-ariel vehicles called RoboBees.

The applications are proving boundless with the possibility for essential robotic pollination on the horizon. Of course such a device would not replace bees but it may be able to assist them when needed. Other uses for RoboBees are being applied to disaster relief and law enforcement.

Lead researcher, Robert Wood, professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University comments on observing bees for the development of RoboBees,

“Bees and other social insects provide a fascinating model for engineered systems that can maneuver in unstructured environments, sense their surroundings, communicate and perform complex tasks as a collective full of relatively simple individuals,”

In addition to what someday may be commonly called artificial micro-pollination, “these aerial microrobots have enormous potential for large-scale sensor deployment to inaccessible, expansive and dangerous locations” Wood explains.

RoboBees: Saving Civilization, One Person at a Time

Adding to the enormous possibility of maintaining our food supply, other applications for RoboBees could be highly beneficial to human health.

These tiny machines may be able to:

  • Locate disaster victims, especially those in hard to reach locations where life saving techniques such as food distribution could begin implementation until help arrives.
  • Predict high weather patterns that may offer early warning especially for tornadoes and hurricanes.
  • Detect vehicle traffic for safety advancement and detours.
  • Monitor environmental safety and other threats to natural resources.
  • Track poachers and other wildlife criminals.
  • Assist law enforcement

RoboBees are also being tested underwater for further search and rescue as well as surveillance and exploration.

Also reported by Business Insider,

“…researchers believe that as soon as 10 years from now these RoboBees could artificially pollinate a field of crops, a critical development if the commercial pollination industry cannot recover from severe yearly losses over the past decade.”

As technology advances at warped speed, some of its inventions just may give mankind more hope in preserving life and planet. RoboBees my seem like Sci-Fi but if used to our advantage there’s no telling how this micro-tech may benefit us all.