"Tiny Flying Robots Are Being Built To Pollinate Crops Instead Of Real BeesHoneybees, which pollinate nearly one-third of the food we eat , have been dying at unprecedented rates because of a mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). The situation is so dire that in late June the White House gave a new task force just 180 days to devise a coping strategy to protect bees and other pollinators. The crisis is generally attributed to a mixture of disease, parasites, and pesticides.
Other scientists are pursuing a different tack: replacing bees. While there's no perfect solution, modern technology offers hope.
Last year, Harvard University researchers led by engineering professor Robert Wood introduced the first RoboBees, bee-size robots with the ability to lift off the ground and hover midair when tethered to a power supply. The details were published in the journal Science. A coauthor of that report, Harvard graduate student and mechanical engineer Kevin Ma, tells Business Insider that the team is "on the eve of the next big development." Says Ma: "The robot can now carry more weight The project represents a breakthrough in the field of micro-aerial vehicles. It had previously been impossible to pack all the things needed to make a robot fly onto such a small structure and keep it lightweight.
The researchers believe that as soon as 10 years from now these RoboBees could artificially pollinate a field of crops, a critical development if the commercial pollination industry cannot recover from severe yearly losses over the past decade.."
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