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Following the news bees are now officially an endangered species as “colony collapse disorder” accelerates, a Harvard research team claims they have the solution – robotic honeybees.
Researchers at Harvard and the University of Washington are building tiny robotic insect drones with the intention of replacing endangered bee populations. The police and military have also planned to use them for surveillance and “data gathering”.
Instead of attempting to save the bees by reducing the use of pesticides, revising safety standards for cell phone radiation, or changing our destructive impact on the world, the focus has shifted to replacing the bees altogether. Harvard University researchers, led by engineering professor Robert Wood have been tweaking “RoboBees” since their initial introduction in 2009.
The bee-sized robots made of titanium and plastic represent a breakthrough in the field of micro-aerial vehicles. The size of the components needed to create flying robots were previously too heavy to make a such a small structure lightweight enough to achieve flight. Current models weigh only 80 mg and have been fitted with sensors that detect light and wind velocity.
Researchers claim that the bees could artificially pollinate entire fields of crops and will soon be able to be programmed to live in an artificial hive, coordinate algorithms and communicate among themselves about methods of pollination and the locations of particular crops. In addition, RoboBees have been suggested for other uses including searching disaster sites for survivors, monitoring traffic, and “military and police applications.”
These applications could include using RoboBees to “scout for insurgents” on battlefields abroad or allowing police and SWAT teams to use the micro-robots to gather footage inside buildings.