The Death Of The Honey Bee

Honey Bee

I’ve been keeping bees for, what – 1 or 2 months now?  It’s really cool.  AND it’s added to my concern for the plight of the honey bee.

Imagine my surprise at this headline:

Rise Of The Robotic Bees

You just HAVE to read more:

Do bees, swarms of bees, make you nervous? Maybe not. Maybe they remind you of honey, flowers and warm summer days. You stay out of their way and they stay out of yours. What if, however, the bees weren’t bees at all but hundreds (or thousands) of autonomous microbots, facsimiles of the real thing, buzzing around in the real world?

That’s not Hollywood fantasy any more. It appears to be within reach. Researchers in the at Harvard’s say that they expect their project will demonstrate flying, autonomous micro-air-vehicles modeled on insects within the next 2 1/2 years.

It won’t be easy, according to Rob Wood, the project’s principal investigator.

“The challenges that you get when you scale these things down mean that you have to reinvent everything, everything has to come from scratch, every one of the technologies,” Wood said in an interview last week. “There is nothing off the shelf.”

But can they solve the pollination problem?

The real question hanging in the air, so to say, is how the bees themselves might be used once they’ve been endowed with the power, sensor and control mechanisms needed to fly and operate on their own.

The obvious answer is surveillance of all types, whether it’s for the military in combat or scientists tracking changes in the environment or spooks keeping tabs on their targets. Oh, and they might also be able to pollinate crops of vegetables and flowers, too.

We have a few years, at least, to figure out how how swarms of robotic insects might fit into our lives. The Robobees team is working along three tracks: body, brain and colony. Each one presents its own challenges. Integrating the three strands, which are being worked on in parallel, is a whole other set of hurdles.

Mobee is just one hurdle cleared. We’ll have to wait and see two years from now if the swarm is really on the horizon, and a little longer to decide if we need to run from it.

Very cool.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *