This is a great drone story, especially when you consider the real world risks of colony collapse disorder. What is colony collapse disorder? According to Wikipedia, colony collapse disorder is:
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, and were known by various names (disappearing disease, spring dwindle, May disease, autumn collapse, and fall dwindle disease), the syndrome was renamed colony collapse disorder in late 2006 in conjunction with a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of western honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in North America. European beekeepers observed similar phenomena in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a lesser degree, and the Northern Ireland Assembly received reports of a decline greater than 50%.
In Tsukuba, Japan, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology named Eijiro Miyako has developed a gel that when applied correctly to small drones, can be used to pollinate flowers like a bee. The technology is still in its infancy, Miyako is currently seeking a million dollar grant.
Miyako has invented an adhesive gel that collects flowers’ pollen grains and deposits them on other flowers upon contact. His goal is to offer farmers a tool to complement, not replace, bees and other natural pollinators.
Miyako’s team published the results of its pollination gel research in the scientific journal Chem in February. He’s seeking a $1 million grant to conduct further experiments with farmers and hire a roboticist to develop autonomous drones.
While this is one of the cooler applications of drone technology that I’ve seen, I hope we never get to the point that drones are replacing the role of bees in nature.
About the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, or AIST, is a Japanese research facility headquartered in Tokyo, and most of the workforce is located in Tsukuba Science City, Ibaraki, and in several cities throughout Japan. The institute is managed to integrate scientific and engineering knowledge to address socio-economic needs. It became a newly designed legal body of independent administrative institution in 2001, remaining under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.