Robobee Officially Takes Flight: Robotic Pollinators to Replace Dying Bees

By: Heather Callaghan

No, this is not a tabloid – it’s real. According to the latest video, which has now been posted below, robotic insects have made their first controlled flight.

According to the creators of Robobee:

The demonstration of the first controlled flight of an insect-sized robot is the culmination of more than a decade’s work . . . Half the size of a paperclip, weighing less than a tenth of a gram, the robot was inspired by the biology of a fly, with submillimeter-scale anatomy and two wafer-thin wings that flap almost invisibly, 120 times per second.

In addition to the recent suggestion from insecticide producers that we should “plant more flowers”to aid the declining bee population, Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has been working with staff from the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Northeastern University’s Department of Biology to develop robotic bees. These insectoid automatons would be capable of a multitude of tasks.

Autonomous pollination, search and rescue, hazardous exploration, military surveillance, climate mapping, and traffic monitoring – to name a few.

Harvard claims their “Micro Air Vehicles Project” was inspired by the biology of a bee and the insect’s hive behaviors. While the researchers focused on the development of individual autonomous robots, they also plan to study coordinating large numbers of the robots to accomplish tasks faster and more efficiently.

The robots are created through an incredible micro-engineering process specifically designed for mass production. Each “Bee” is designed with its own electronic nervous system and power source, and able to target tasks with a microscopic Ultra Violet targeting sensor.

These micro-engineering advances are increasingly similar to the military’s development of miniature drones. Shared knowledge and research in these technologies is resulting in a massive increase of processing power and flight time, as well as the potential for fully autonomous drone swarms.

Watch this in this video, from over two years ago, as a small group of robots work together on assembling a tower-like structure.

Compared to the current bee micro-drones seen in the video below, those amazing quadrotor copters are almost monstrous in size. It just goes to show how the application of these technologies is increasing, while the size of the chassis becomes almost microscopic.

And here is the most recent video where we see the Robobee actually takes flight:

But as far as aiding in the pollination of our dystopian GMO fields, devoid of workers, devoid of life, what are the possible benefits?

Well, as the sales pitch for a full mechanization of nature suggests, farmers would no longer have to rely on bees to pollinate their crops. Patented worker drones could be purchased or rented and rolled into the field each spring. Pollination would be quick and efficient, no worries about colony collapse or sterile crops.

And here’s another thought . . . the robobees could be programmed specifically to your own crop. Imagine not having to worry about your little pollinators getting lost in your neighbor’s field. Simply have them programmed to respond only to specific genetic markers found only in your fields. Of course, that would require that your crop have a patented genetic marker to be programmed . . . oh.

Patented bees pollinating only approved patented crops. If that doesn’t sound like a biology lesson from The Orwellian Institute, then I don’t know what does. And, as Madison Ruppert notes, the developers have even more in mind:

The next phase of the RoboBee project will include a “computationally efficient brain” mounted on the robot that is inspired by the way fruit flies’ brains handle flying in the wind.

“Flies perform some of the most amazing aerobatics in nature using only tiny brains,” said Sawyer Fuller, a member of the Harvard research team, according to the Daily Mail. “Their capabilities exceed what we can do with our robot, so we would like to understand their biology better and apply it to our own work.”

According to Professor Robert Wood, the leader of the project, developments made under the RoboBee project could be used in other fields as well. (Source)

This is already happening, as wherever high tech is present, so is the military. Here is a video from the Air Force illustrating the multi-purpose aspect of what is being proposed: not only surveillance, not only autonomous insect swarms, but also assassinations. The video already has been removed from YouTube once, so please alert us if this video is not working.

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