Robotic Insect: To Promote Pollination in US, May Support Future Food Supply
There is a huge fall in the honeybee population, nearly a one in three commercial honeybee colonies in the United States died due to mysterious affliction called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which began to wipe out honeybee hives. These bees control most commercial pollination in the U.S., and their loss creates low production of crops due to low rate of pollination, an annual survey found on Wednesday.
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The US Department of Agriculture has estimated that honeybees contribute some $20bn to the economy every year.
"We're getting closer and closer to the point where we don't have enough bees in this country to meet pollination demands," said entomologist Dennis vanEngelstorp of the University of Maryland, who led the survey documenting the declines, according to Wired.
However, recently, scientists in Harvard and Northeastern University have taken a big step to overcome a political pollinator crisis.
They have created a robot the size of a fly with wing designs based on real houseflies. The manufacture was inspired by origami, which is able to perform the agile manoeuvres of the global insects.
In 2009, the teams considered seriously to create a robotic bee colony. Now these teams worked on a swarm of tiny RoboBees- flying-bee size robots- that could pollinate flowers and do the job of real bees if needed.
According to Inhaitat, "In 2009 the three of us began to seriously consider what it would take to create a robotic bee colony," the team leaders told Scientific America.
"We wondered if mechanical bees could replicate not just an individual's behavior but the unique behavior that emerges out of interactions among thousands of bees. We have now created the first RoboBees-flying bee-size robots-and are working on methods to make thousands of them cooperate like a real hive," they added.
Like real bees, RoboBees will work best when employed as swarms of thousands of individuals, coordinating their actions without relying on a single leader. The hive must be spirited enough so that the group can complete its objectives even if many bees fail.