Remember the swarms of killer bee drones bee in Season 3 of Black Mirror? According to The Verge, Scientists in Japan have successfully developed robot bees. But this is no cause for alarm; with the real bee population on the decline, these bees are intended to help with the cross-pollination of crops. In the future, drone bees actually may be vital to the agriculture industry. Currently, in the United States, bees are responsible for the pollination of crops worth over $15 billion. But bee populations are declining, and several species in the United States are currently on the endangered list, which has led scientists to work to develop alternative methods for pollination.
Video via New Scientist
Japanese scientist Eijiro Miyako and colleagues published a study in the journal Chem that details their research and the current progress they have made with their robot bees. The bee drone is 1.6 by 1.6 inches in size and has a stripe of hairs from a horse tail that is coated in a sticky gel. When the drone lands on a flower, the gel allows it to pick up the pollen, which it can transport to another flower. What Chem is calling “artificial pollinators,” these robot bees may one day help real bees pollinate crops. Presently though, this study has been contained to a lab and has not yet extended out to real farms. Also, the bees in the present study were controlled by remote controls. Plans for future progress include autonomous robot bees that would operate independently through a combination of artificial intelligence, GPS, and high-resolution cameras.
So it doesn’t sound like there is any need to worry about an attack of killer bee drones. In fact, these bees could be the wave of the future and be responsible for saving at-risk crop production.
Images via Eijiro Miyako