Innovation That Matters

Drone pollinators could help relieve overburdened bees


Researchers at Japan’s AIST institute found gel from a previous failed experiment and discovered that it can, with horse-hair covered drones, pollinate flowers.

As bee populations worldwide become increasingly fragile, and in many places, much reduced in numbers, scientists are fighting against time to find ways to help them flourish once more. At the same time, a progressively populous world needs ever more food. Since bees are essential pollinators for many plants, a serendipitous lab discovery may be able to relieve bees of some of their agricultural burden.

A researcher in Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) Nanomaterial Research Institute found eight-year old gel in a cupboard from something he had been working on nearly a decade earlier. Using a four-propeller micro-drone, the team eventually settled on a horse-hair covered body combined with the gel as the (potentially) perfect robot pollinator. Further development is planned before testing the drone in the field.

Springwise has covered a number of drone developments, including the team of Polish researchers that has also recently developed a robotic pollinator, and medical supply delivery by drone in Rwanda. What industries have yet to try working with drones in some way?




Download PDF