|What do you think? More work? (This is the Polish B-Droid.)|
This came to mind when I read about some mechanical pollinators being developed in Poland and at Harvard--the possible answer, temporary or permanent, to the declining population of honey bees.
Honey bees, wild and domestic, take care of 80% of the world's pollination. This includes seventy of the top 100 human food crops. No bees, no food--or at least that could happen.
In the US, honey bees have declined from 6 million hives in 1947 to 2.4 million in 2008. That's 60% fewer hives. The cause is called Colony Collapse Disorder.
Now, after four years of work, scientists at the Warsaw University of Technology invented the B-Droid.
A tiny quadcopter, the B-Droid uses onboard cameras and an external computer to plan a flight path over a field.
Dina Spector, writing in the Business Insider (July 7, 2014), also wrote about a small mechanical pollinator called RoboBees. When tethered to a power supply, they can lift off and hover mid-air using robot wings that flap 120 times a second.
As soon as 10 years from now, the Harvard people say, RoboBees may be able to fly on their own and communicate like real bees (who use dancing movements to signal great pollinating).
One plus--the RoboBees do not eat and do not need to bring nectar back to the hive. They just pollinate.
But 10 years? Like the larger bumblebee, these seem heavy and clumsy--but they said that one couldn't do the job either--and it does.