Robot Bees Invented to Provide Pollination as Honeybees Disappear

Kelly Lawyer
By Kelly Lawyer | August 5, 2014 | 11:11 AM EDT

With honeybees on the decline because of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and Varroa mites, a virus-transmitting parasite, Harvard engineering and applied sciences professor, Robert Wood invented Robobees, bee-size robots "inspired by the biology of a bee and the insect's hive behavior."

Professor Wood and his team want to advance "in miniature robotics and the design of compact high-energy power sources; spur innovations in ultra-low-power computing and electronic 'smart' sensors; and refine coordination algorithms to manage multiple, independent machines."

One of the goals for the robots is the pollination of fields, thereby assisting in the bee crisis: "The collaborators envision that the Nature-inspired research could lead to a greater understanding of how to artificially mimic the collective behavior and "intelligence" of a bee colony; foster novel methods for designing and building an electronic surrogate nervous system able to deftly sense and adapt to changing environments; and advance work on the construction of small-scale flying mechanical devices."

Despite the hype surrounding these amazing robobees, before farmers go out and try to buy them, they should note that researchers anticipate robobees won't be functional for at least another 20 years.  In addition, researchers state that robobees won't be a cure for CCD or other issues affecting bee hives, but merely help soften the blow these problems threaten to agriculture across the United States.