Autonomous Robot Can Replace Bees As Pollinator
USA – There is a great deal of concern about the rate at which honey bees are disappearing due to colony collapse disorder. Bees are the primary pollinators of a huge variety of crops. This means their disappearance poses serious risks for agriculture and food production. A group of engineers at West Virginia University’s Statler College have come up with a solution. They have developed an autonomous robot prototype, called BrambleBee, which can pollinate plants.
The BrambleBee is equipped with localization and mapping algorithms. The robot detects flower clusters using an on-board camera. Additionally, after mapping plant locations, the BrambleBee choses where to pollinate by balancing the number of reachable flower clusters that are ready for pollination with the distance needed to drive to pollinate them. Once in place, the robot scans the plant and uses a robotic arm to apply the pollen. The pollination mechanism is designed to mimic the action of bees. It is also able to distribute pollen into the pistils without damaging the flowers.