An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat:
Native honeybees, one of the most prolific pollinators in the animal kingdom, are dying off at an unprecedented rate from Colony Collapse Disorder and threatening an ecosystem service worth about $15 billion. Supported by the National Science Foundation, the RoboBees project looks to minimize the loss of this critical resource with new microbots that can mimic the pollinating role of a honeybee… In a remarkable display of biomimicry, scientists have developed a flight-capable robot that’s just half the size of a paperclip and weighs in at one tenth of a gram… The RoboBees project pushes the boundaries of research in a variety of fields, from micromanufacturing to energy storage and even the computer algorithms that control the robots by the swarm…
While the effect of a single robot might be miniscule, a coordinated group of hundreds, thousands, or millions of RoboBees could perform a host of unprecedented tasks. Aside from pollinating plants for agricultural purposes, the RoboBees could coordinate to digitally map terrain, monitor weather conditions, and even assist in relief efforts after a disaster, through data collection. While RoboBees are only intended as a stopgap measure for honeybee loss, the potential applications of the technology have the world holding its breath for the next breakthrough.
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