by Justice Etafo – Staff Reporter
Bees play a key environmental role, especially the specific species that pollinate. Not only are their efforts contributing to the ecosystem much of their work translates into the U.S economy and agriculture. This is because it is estimated that “bees produce 40 billion dollars annually”even being responsible for one third of the food being eaten globally.
The robot bee is an innovation from Harvard that is meant to carry out the environmental tasks of bees. They are designed to prepare for the possibility of bee extinction or minimalized populations. Robot bees could act as our savior in the wake of the bee problem, ever since the 1990s the Bombus (Bumble Bee) population has plunged by almost 90%, the U.S has even put them on the endangered list.
The bodily composition of the robot bee was inspired by that of a fly. The size of half a paperclip. The autonomous bee can flap its wings 120 times per second using its “artificial muscles” that are designed to expand and contract when an electric charge is applied. The mechanized bees are not functional as there are still a few kinks to work out, such as the battery and how there is not one small or light enough to be carried by the wings. Secondly, the bee can only last 20 seconds in the air, being able to achieve vertical takeoff, hovering, and steering.
If you care to know why exactly the Bees are going out at an alarming rate, all signs point to the disease colony collapse disorder, pesticides on crops that unintentionally harm or kill them, as well as climate change with habitat loss. “Last year, the U.S. lost 44 percent of all honeybee colonies — a species essential to commercial pollination in this country.” With the threat of bee extinction, robot bees could act as an replacement allowing the pollination in the U.S to continue.