They say no other species can help pollinate flowers other than bees, but scientists have proven another way to transfer these pollen grains, that is, but implementing drone technology. Now and in the future, drones and bees can both work together to yield more flowers and crops. There would be definitely no future for us if bees really go extinct. Therefore, Japanese scientists have developed drones that mimic bees in spreading pollen from plant to plant.
In the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), researchers bought commercial mini-drones that doesn’t cost too much and fixed patches of horsehair to the bottom of drones and applied liquid ion gels on to the hairs. The ion gels are similar to the leg hairs of bees as they are sticky and moist. The researchers tested the drones out by flying it into the plants and were successful in grabbing and releasing pollen grains from the male to the female parts of the Japanese while lilies.
Eijiro Miyako, chemist at AIST and the leader of the project, claims that this was the first time a drone pollinated flower. “This project is the result of serendipity,” says Miyako, who worked with postdoctoral fellow and first author Svetlana Chechetka. “We were surprised that after 8 years, the ionic gel didn’t degrade and was still so viscous. Conventional gels are mainly made of water and can’t be used for a long time, so we decided to use this material for research.”
“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. “We believe that robotic pollinators could be trained to learn pollination paths using global positioning systems and artificial intelligence.”
Although the project is still far from being implemented in the field, it is a creative and vital step in addressing a future with fewer bees. The goal would be able to decrease the stress on bee populations by commercialization so they can do what drones can’t – make honey.
Check the demo video:
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[Source: Science News]