Robotic bees or autonomous bees are creating quite a buzz around.
Especially with Walmart tapping into the technology by applying for a patent which hints on a similar concept, which discloses unmanned air vehicles for pollination and crop monitoring.
The patent filed by Walmart is raising questions that as to why a retail giant like Walmart is venturing into such a different field from its domain.
For the unversed, robotic bees are artificial microrobots which are designed to carry out roles of a normal bee.
Bees and their various species are a crucial part of our ecosystem; they are responsible for the essential role of crop pollination. Much of the produce of domestic vegetables and fruits rely on pollination by bees.
However, normal healthy crop pollination is endangered due to the dwindling bee population.
Climate change and other global warming factors are to be blamed for the colony collapse disorder, which has been on the rise recently.
Climatic disorders, along with modern farming and cultivation methods, have put the future of the bees in risk and its consequences are already evident as adverse effects can already be seen in agriculture sector globally.
This scenario and the possible extinction of bees in the near future gave fuel to the concept of robotic bees and inspired robotic creators around the world to rush into development of robotic bees.
Within this concept, tiny micro-robots or drones are being developed, which will mimic actual bees. These micro-drones will carry out the pollination, which is done by real bees.
Besides crop pollination, robotic bees are being developed for a variety of other agricultural uses like crop and plant remote monitoring.
This concept which is still at a nascent stage, hints at remote monitoring of crops at microscopic levels. This remote minute level monitoring of crop fields will enable to foresee any lurking pest risks and help avert such issues timely.
The immense potential the idea offers made the retail giant Walmart patent the concept,
However, Walmart isn’t the first entity to work in this direction.
Instead, Harvard University was amongst the first players. Researchers at Wyss Institute, Harvard University intrigued by the biology of a real bee have developed a Robo bee which is one-tenth the size of a drone. Besides flying, Harvard’s bee has also learnt to swim, thus taking the game to an altogether different level. Their robot bees can also manage to function well on different difficult terrains, which make them apt for exploration and surveillance as well.
Besides above, many other institutes and companies too are investing in the R&D of the robotic bees. The technology is explosive and a starting point to many problem-solving innovations.
The robotic bees concept seems a promising idea and is bound to fuel many innovations worldwide. However, it’s still a long way to go and quite sometime when you see robotic bees flying around you, which might not sting but can surely give an electric shock!
Various companies and entities working on robotic bee concepts:
Source: Visualization tool XLPAT