Sorry, but these pollinating robots can’t replace bees! They’re cool, but it’s easier and cheaper to save the ones we’ve got!!

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In 2007, chemist Eijiro Miyako created a thick, viscous, sticky gel that could conduct electricity. He hoped that it could be used in batteries or actuators, but the gel didn’t perform as well as he hoped, so he shoved it in a drawer and forgot about it.

Years later during a lab cleanup, Miyako found the gel, and decided to try a new experiment with it, attaching the gel to fibers, and then attaching that long-lasting sticky gel to an off-the-shelf drone—and crashing it into some flowers.

The result is a large robotic pollinator described in the journal Chem. In addition to putting together the remote-controlled pollinating drone, Miyako and colleagues also tested the gel on ants, and found that ants with a small coating of the gel attracted more pollen than ants without.

Miyako’s experiment was inspired by the plight of pollinators like bees around the globe, many of which are currently imperiled by a wide variety of factors.

Dave Goulson, a biologist who specializes in the study of bumblebees, says that a combination of factors are leading to the declining health of bee populations worldwide. “The poor bees are short of food, poisoned by pesticides and infected with foreign diseases. There are a few other minor things as well, but you stick all that together and it’s hardly surprising that they’re not doing so great,” Goulson says.

The electrically-charged nature of the gel makes it an ideal candidate for mimicking the way pollen interacts with bees.

Bees tend to have a positive charge while flowers and their pollen tend to have a negative charge. Opposites attract in nature, with pollen practically flying onto the bee as it approaches. The charged gel serves a similar purpose, capturing the pollen and transporting it to the next flower.

TO BE CONTINUED ON THEIR WEBSITE

Source: Sorry, but these pollinating robots can’t replace bees | Popular Science

7 Responses to “Sorry, but these pollinating robots can’t replace bees! They’re cool, but it’s easier and cheaper to save the ones we’ve got!!”

  1. Reblogged this on "OUR WORLD".

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