Honeybees are dying out at an unprecedented pace, with experts warning that if drastic measures are not taken, they could well be extinct in the next 50 years. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is still an unsolved mystery that’s gotten so out of control that the federal government is studying ways to counter it.
While there may never be an answer to why CCD occurs, some scientists and researchers are not going to wait until the bees are gone to figure out a way to pollinate our crops. Instead, they’re devising robotic bees called RoboBees to act as mobile, robotic pollinators.
According to NRDC, “Cross-pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive. Without bees to spread seeds, many plants—including food crops—would die off.”
Harvard Researchers are working on a new project to create RoboBees that can fly, hover and pollinate plants while being attached to a power supply.
Classified technically as micro-aerial vehicles, up until recently, this design was not plausible or even possible due to weight. But now these micronized robots weigh less, can flap their wings 120 times per second and can perform complex tasks. And researchers are saying that they could be capable of fully pollinating fields of crops in as few as 10 years.
This is good news for the White House, which said that the declining bee population “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.”
Experts say that honeybees help pollinate $15 billion in crops annually in the U.S. But RoboBees are nearly as capable, able to swarm, communicate and complete tasks just like an active hive of real bees.
“RoboBees will work best when employed as swarms of thousands of individuals, coordinating their actions without relying on a single leader,” the researchers explained in an article that was published in the Scientific American. “The hive must be resilient enough so that the group can complete its objectives even if many bees fail.”
If a solution to the honeybee problem is not found soon, the only alternative might be to employ hives of robotic bees.
Skynet would be proud of all the buzz.