The concept is similar to the futuristic robotic bees featured in an episode of the hit sci-fi show “Black Mirror”.
Using $100 drones equipped with horsehair and a sticky ion gel, the scientists were able to conduct artificial pollination.
The drones are first directed to fly into flowers where they pick up pollen that gets stuck due to the combination of the ion gel and horsehair.
Just like real bees, that same pollen is then shaken off into another flower.
AIST chemist Eijio Miyako, who created the sticky ion gel by accident in 2007, is now the project leader of “Robo-bees.”
“The findings, which will have applications for agriculture and robotics, among others, could lead to the development of artificial pollinators and help counter the problems caused by declining honeybee populations,” Miyako says.
Miyako and his team are now working on making the bees autonomous so they will be able to pollinate flowers by themselves.