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  • Logan Young

How Drones can help us pollinate our crops


Robotic pollen collector Credit: Eijiro Miyako

Around 75% of our world's crops are pollinated and have a value of 15 billion dollars just in the US(Potenza, 2017). Without the pollinators, we would be big trouble and it seems we’re on the way towards that conclusion. But a few scientists in japan think we could give a helping hand. One word: Drones.


How they work

When they started, they bought a small drone that mimics the size of a bee, they then added a gel that is able to collect the pollen from the flowers.


At first, it seemed to only grab a minimal amount so they added fur that also mimics bees fur and has to be controlled manually.


When we will see this technology put into place

It’s currently unlikely to see this technology put to work in the near future because of certain technology setbacks(Prisco, 2017).


First off, they are controlled & can not work on their own. They’d need to have some sort of AI that is able to sense where the pollen is and work on its own.


Another setback is that there are around 20,000 different bee species(Ponti, 2017). Many of them seem to have their own way of collecting and moving the pollen. We’d need to be able to mimic many of these and have a mass collection of drones able to work continuously.


Lastly, we’d need to have a better way of collecting the pollen. Currently, the drone isn’t able to collect a lot at one time.

Should we rely on these drones

As much as these can be very helpful when it comes to pollinating, this may distract ourselves from saving the natural pollinators that are able to work without humans.


We should not let go of this type of technology as it can have a role in pollinating but they should probably not be a substitute for our critters.


Whether or not we are on a slow pace towards this tech, We will likely see them sometime in the future to help us maintain our crops. But should they be used as a substitute over natures pollinators? Let us know in the comments!



References:

Prisco, Jacopo. “Researchers Use Drone to Pollinate Flower.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 Mar. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/03/09/world/artificial-pollinator-japan/index.html.


Ponti, Crystal. “Rise Of The Robot Bees: Tiny Drones Turned Into Artificial Pollinators.” NPR, NPR, 3 Mar. 2017, www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/03/03/517785082/rise-of-the-robot-bees-tiny-drones-turned-into-artificial-pollinators.


Potenza, Alessandra. “Bee Optimistic: This Drone Can Still Pollinate Plants Even If All the Bees Die.” The Verge, The Verge, 9 Feb. 2017, www.theverge.com/2017/2/9/14549786/drone-bees-artificial-pollinators-colony-collapse-disorder.

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