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Tiny Drones Could Replace Honey Bees

Tiny Drones Could Replace Honey Bees

Since the honey bee population is declining, farmers may use drones to pollinate crops. Here’s one that was invented by Eijiro Miyako, a researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Sciences and Technology:

It’s 1.5 inches wide and has a square form. It is agile but not stable. It zooms past one flower and hits another. There’s a patch of horsehair bristles underneath the drone, and it’s coated with sticky gel. This is used to pollinate the flower. Miyako tested it on a Japanese lily. It’s a manual drone, requiring a human operator. It can stay in the air for 10 minutes. It may be upgraded in the future with sensors, cameras, and GPS.

Source: Modern Farmer

At Harvard University, researchers have developed RoboBees. It weighs one-tenth of a gram and has artificial muscles. When a voltage is applied, the muscles contract. RoboBees also have sensors, which they use to respond to the environment. RoboBees are constructed with a new manufacturing method called Pop-Up microelectromechanical (MEMs). Here’s a video:

What’s are MEMS?

MEMS are made up of components between 1 and 100 micrometers in size (i.e. 0.001 to 0.1 mm), and MEMS devices generally range in size from 20 micrometers to a millimeter (i.e. 0.02 to 1.0 mm), although components arranged in arrays (e.g., Digital micromirror devices) can be more than 1000mm2. They usually consist of a central unit that processes data (the microprocessor) and several components that interact with the surroundings such as microsensors.

Because of the large surface area to volume ratio of MEMS, forces produced by ambient electromagnetism (e.g., electrostatic charges and magnetic moments), and fluid dynamics (e.g., surface tension and viscosity) are more important design considerations than with larger scale mechanical devices. MEMS technology is distinguished from molecular nanotechnology or molecular electronics in that the latter must also consider surface chemistry.


Tiny Drones Could Replace Honey Bees
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