Could Robo Bees Pollinate Plants In 2019?


Rumor has it that Robo Bees may be utilized in 2019 to help grow vegetables, fruits and almonds. These artificial insects will be utilized as a substitute for real bees. Since wild bees are having so much difficultly surviving, their numbers are declining at an alarming rate.

According to reports, beekeepers in the United States are having difficulty preventing their bees from dying. In fact, many reported smaller honeybee colonies in 2018 than ever before. The U.S. Bee Informed Partnership released a report that revealed alarming losses, which was estimated to be about 40 percent.

What Are Robo Bees?

Researchers at Tomsk Polytechnic University in Russia are planning to offer farmers around the world an alternative to wild bees. Even though the Robo Bees will be created in a lab, they will be capable of performing the same duties as wild bees, but maybe better. These artificial bees have been described as being the size a palm, which is about seven times larger than the average bee.

Scientists will utilize software, optical systems and algorithms to create the Robo Bees. To achieve accurate positioning, they will utilize image recognition techniques, which have proven to be very effective for other applications. 

According to Alexey Yakovlev, a scientist and the head of Tomsk Polytechnic University School of Engineering, it will cost approximately $1.4 million to complete the first batch of Robo Bees. The first batch will consist of only 100 Robo Bees.

Financial Loss Reduction

Each honeybee colony lost is costing farmers up to $500. These losses are a result of escape, since there is no infrared light for them to fly in during the spring season. This will not be an issue with Robo Bees, because they are programmed to work around the clock and remain in same environment, according to Yakovlev.

Where Will Robo Bees Be Utilized?

Robo Bees will not be utilized in their natural habitat. In fact, they will only be utilized in large greenhouses. They will be utilized to pollinate a broad range of produce, including cherries and applies, as well as almonds. 

On average, an almond farmer in the United States could pay up to $200 for a colony of bees, while blueberry farmers are paying around $110. A colony of bees for an American apple farmer cost about $70. 

Alternative Pollinating Species

If the Robo Bees work as expected, growers will produce large batches of produce and almonds, while suffering economic losses. This could encourage some agricultural companies and farmers to consider utilizing other pollination species, including flies, mosquitos and bats. These species may be a great alternative to bees.

Scientists Facing Difficulties

So far, scientists have not been successful creating artificial pollinators that could replace real bees. However, a drone, created by Japanese scientist Eijiro Miyako, successfully delivered pollen between flowers. This has prompted Miyako and his team to begin working on a solution to help farmers. 

These autonomous drones will rely on artificial intelligence, a GPS and high-resolution camera to track their way between land and flowers. To mimic accurate eye function of wild bees, the drones will be integrated with smart sensors.

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