A scientist from the University of Stirling and his US collaborator have been jointly awarded a £640,000 grant to create “robot bees”. In a project which aims to improve agriculture as well as help advance understanding of the evolution of species of bees and flowers, these microrobots are to be built to simulate the buzzing of bees.
Evolutionary biologist Dr. Mario Vallejo-Marin, of the University of Stirling, will work with electrical engineer Dr. Noah Jafferis, of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, over three years to create these microrobots.
Twenty-thousand plants, including tomatoes, potatoes and blueberries, depend on buzz pollination. Understanding which bees do it best, and how they do it, the scientists say, could improve agriculture as well as help advance understanding of the evolution of species of bees and flowers.
The robots are the size of a fingernail and weigh a quarter of a honeybee. They will allow the scientists to control the vibrations’ pitch, force, and timing, and simulate bees’ interactions with flowers.