In an example of life imitating art, scientists have come up with a technology straight out of an episode of Black Mirror: Bee-like pollinating drones.
A team at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan engineered the devices using a combination of horsehair, $USD 100 drones and a sticky ion gel.
It’s pretty simple really – first, the drones fly into flowers much like a bee would. Inside the flower, pollen gets stuck to the drone due to the combination of the ion gel and horsehair. That same pollen is then shaken off into the next flower, and so on. It’s just your run of the mill birds and the robots bees.
Popular Mechanics reports that Eijio Miyako, a chemist at AIST actually created the sticky ion gel by accident in 2007. The gel, which Miyako considered a failure, sat unused for a decade. When Miyako picked it up again recently he was pleased to find that it was still sticky and figured it would be perfect for his new project.
Miyako is now the project leader behind the “Robo-bees”. In the video above, you can see the first time that a drone has successfully pollinated a flower, in this case Japanese lilies. Blink and you’ll miss it!
By Stefan Kostarelis