The newest solution to bee decline and colony collapse is possibly a robotic bee. Well, this one has got me amused. I certainly can appreciate the science though.
It really is a complex thing they are doing in creating a mechanical robotic insect. A seriously costly proposition, it is to the tune of ten million dollars in research funding to one university alone.
Is it not more sensible to sink the dollars into fixing the problems with the real bees first? Can they not keep reproducing new bees as well? What will automated bees do that living breathing bees can’t? I am not trying to be flippant either.
Image from, May I Introduce, Dr. Bee. This post talks about unusual jobs that bees have been employed to service mankind. It really is a unique look at bees.
I look at bees as important to life as air, food and water. Heck, they do an awful lot in helping to ensure that we have food.
We NEED them in this capacity, and although this development is a miracle of science, it is not quite up to being the miracle of nature.
Well, I can see this both as fiction futuristic and going much further in application for practical reality. I am not so naive as to see many other applications for the robot bee that will spill into unrelated fields, but to replace the actual bee? To even anticipate a day without actual bees?
Scientists are programming real bee senses into the robot bees such as their sense of sight and smell. They are trying to upload behaviors that would be useful from collective behavior and colony mentality. It seems that they would much need the robobees to work in a team-like fashion to accomplish any number of services.
The beebots are a reality in 2015 they say, but to what ends is the question. Before that time, should we not be asking how the robot bees themselves might be used once they have been bestowed with control mechanisms and artificial intelligence needed to fly and operate of their own accord?
Would this robot bee not have military applications too? Most likely. Robobees could be employed in surveillance of all kinds, just as their chitin covered counterparts have been doing since ancient times. Whether being catapulted into an enemies’ fort, or sniffing out weapons in airports, the bees have been used by humans for a very long time.
The beebots could just be out pollinating flowers as well. Bees will likely perform the same basic tasks as real bees, like identifying flowers and collecting pollen, but, all independently of additional human interaction, control and care in the traditional sense anyway.
It is a pretty remarkable breakthrough in robotics and artificial intelligence, no question. Or is there questions?
Take a look at the videos…
Since the scientists have so many biological obstacles to overcome to translate their work into the robotic bee, like fashioning the physical bee itself, developing the colony and collective behaviors, it should be a long while before they are buzzing in backyards. So many hurdles to address I am sure, but so many questions too.
Another video that is worth a look.
I would probably be intrigued enough to work on this project, but see so many ethical reasons not to as it concerns the actual living, buzzing bee. Science seems to ignore the bigger questions sometimes.
It is not the religious aspect of playing God. We already do that with all the things we create that destroy. It is more from the aspect of not saving what we have and making that the number one priority.
We are most likely in a time in our evolution where we can’t design and legislate our way out of the environmental problems we are now facing. It becomes almost sorry to see scientists headed in this direction with that directive. Time and efforts should be concentrated on repairing, not primarily creating anew.
Sure this will be quite a scientific and engineering feat, but is it not obvious at least one reason why this is being done? Rather than change the practices that are affecting the bees, like the use of pesticides and herbicides, this is being touted as a viable solution. Break through in robotics, seems off point.
I know there is much more to the science than adding robobees to the natural population. I know they are not going to replace bees. The focus seems misdirected if the objective is to make pollinating bees when real bees should be the main consideration. Do scientists know something that we the public are yet unaware?
I just don’t want to go out in my garden in the next ten years and see these things flapping from flower to flower. I want the real bees. I want science to fix what we broke.
You all know my love of animals. See the post Lions, Tigers and Bees, by Miss Apis Mellifera.