What will happen to the food on our table when honeybees are gone? These tiny insects pollinate plants accounts for nearly a third of the food that humans consumer. And they're dying.
According to a survey made by the US Department of Agriculture and the Bee Informed Partnership, the honeybee population dropped by an alarming 23.2 per cent in 2014. This is a result of what is known as colony collapse disorder. Blame the excessive use of pesticides and neonicotinoids, says a Harvard University study.
The solution, inevitably, comes from applied technology. A Harvard project named RoboBee has created a tiny robotic bee that can swim, dive and, oh yes, pollinate flowers.
The Hybrid Aerial and Aquatic Locomotion in an At-Scale Robotic Insect, as it's named, has been under development at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University for more than seven years.
The size of a Rs 1 coin, the tiny robot bee is capable of taking lifting off vertically, rolling right and left, pitching forward and backward and swimming underwater, the last a skill that real bees do not posses.
ResearchersYufeng Chen, E. Farrell Helbling, Nick Gravish, Kevin Ma, and Robert J. Wood write in the project description: “...One potential application of micro-robotic "insects" might someday be to artificially pollinate crops." However, they warn, that's at least 20 years away.
Meanwhile, the real honeybees do need to be saved.