Project Originally Funded By DARPA Seeks To Replace Bees With Tiny, Winged Robots

(True Activist) : Project Originally Funded By DARPA Seeks To Replace Bees With Tiny, Winged Robots : –

Researchers at Harvard and the University of Washington are building tiny robotic insects with the intention of replacing endangered bee populations. The police and military have also planned to use them for “data gathering”.

Following the news that the honeybee is now officially an endangered species as “colony collapse disorder” accelerates, it seems that a Harvard research team has the solution – robotic honeybees. Instead of attempting to save the bees by reducing the use of pesticides or revising safety standards for cell phone radiation, the focus has shifted to replacing the bees altogether. Harvard University researchers, led by engineering professor Robert Wood have been tweaking “RoboBees” since their initial introduction in 2009. The bee-sized robots made of titanium and plastic represent a breakthrough in the field of micro-aerial vehicles. The size of the components needed to create flying robots were previously too heavy to make a such a small structure lightweight enough to achieve flight. Current models weigh only 80 mg and have been fitted with sensors that detect light and wind velocity.
Researchers claim that the bees could artificially pollinate entire fields of crops and will soon be able to be programmed to live in an artificial hive, coordinate algorithms and communicate among themselves about methods of pollination and the locations of particular crops. In addition, RoboBees have been suggested for other uses including searching disaster sites for survivors, monitoring traffic, and “military and police applications.” These applications could include using RoboBees to “scout for insurgents” on battlefields abroad or allowing police and SWAT teams to use the micro-robots to gather footage inside buildings.
The RoboBees project originally began at the University of California at Berkeley in 1998 when neurobiologist Michael Dickinson, electrical engineer Ron Fearing, and then-grad student Rob Wood received a $2.5 million grant from DARPA to create an insect drone.
Dickinson now continues his work at the University of Washington while Wood heads the principal RoboBee micro-robotics lab at Harvard. DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US military, is best known for its role in helping create the internet, but a vast majority of their taxpayer-funded projects paint a decidedly dystopian picture of humanity’s future. Most of DARPA’s projects involve transhumanism, the merging of humans and machines to create a technologically governed populace.
One of the most well-known DARPA projects is the creation of “super soldiers” that are cybernetically-enhanced both physically and mentally, including brain implants that could allow the super-soldiers to “communicate by thought alone.” Some defense scientists have warned it could lead to the “remote guidance or control of a human being.”
Other dystopian DARPA projects include robots that can run as fast as cheetahs, grasp objects, and kill targets. It should come as no surprise, then, that DARPA also seeks to create robotic wildlife that will fulfill essential roles to planetary function as well as other uses in maintaining a surveillance state. However, there is no way DARPA or technology can fill the void of highly complex natural organisms and natural systems with machines, no matter how many millions of dollars of taxpayer money they spend. The war against nature and their planned technological replacements may suggest that the decline of bees and biodiversity may actually be a means to an end for those who seek to create a transhumanist future.

RoboBees: If bee populations continue to decline, the dystopian future could one day become a reality.


Honeybees, which pollinate nearly one-third of the food we eat, have been dying at unprecedented rates because of a mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). The situation is so dire that in late June the White House gave a new task force just 180 days to devise a coping strategy to protect bees and other pollinators. The crisis is generally attributed to a mixture of disease, parasites, and pesticides.

Other scientists are pursuing a different tack: replacing bees. While there’s no perfect solution, modern technology offers hope.

Last year, Harvard University researchers led by engineering professor Robert Wood introduced the first RoboBees, bee-size robots with the ability to lift off the ground and hover midair when tethered to a power supply. The details were published in the journal Science. A coauthor of that report, Harvard graduate student and mechanical engineer Kevin Ma, tells Business Insider that the team is “on the eve of the next big development.” Says Ma: “The robot can now carry more weight.”

The project represents a breakthrough in the field of micro-aerial vehicles. It had previously been impossible to pack all the things needed to make a robot fly onto such a small structure and keep it lightweight.


Tiny Flying Robots Are Being Built To Pollinate Crops Instead Of Real Bees

Bees and other pollinating insects play an essential role in ecosystems. A third of all our food depends on their pollination. A world without pollinators would be devastating for food production. Since the late 1990s, beekeepers around the world have observed the mysterious and sudden disappearance of bees, and report unusually high rates of decline in honeybee colonies. Although the exact causes are not yet fully understood, growing evidence suggests that chemical-intensive farming methods and the use of insecticides play a major role. Greenpeace has now launched a campaign demanding urgent action to address this issue – including a ban on the most harmful chemicals, along with increased science funding and more sustainable agricultural practices.

Harvard University

Superthin robot wings flap 120 times a second.

A Bee-Placement?

The researchers believe that as soon as 10 years from now these RoboBees could artificially pollinate a field of crops, a critical development if the commercial pollination industry cannot recover from severe yearly losses over the past decade.

The White House underscored what’s at stake, noting that the loss of bees and other species “requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.” Honeybees alone contribute more than $15 billion in value to U.S. agricultural crops each year.

But RoboBees are not yet a viable technological solution. First, the tiny bots have to be able to fly on their own and “talk” to one another to carry out tasks like a real honeybee hive.

“RoboBees will work best when employed as swarms of thousands of individuals, coordinating their actions without relying on a single leader,” Wood and colleagues wrote in an article for Scientific American. “The hive must be resilient enough so that the group can complete its objectives even if many bees fail.”

Although Wood wrote that CCD and the threat it poses to agriculture were part of the original inspiration for creating a robotic bee, the devices aren’t meant to replace natural pollinators forever. We still need to focus on efforts to save these vital creatures. RoboBees would serve as “stopgap measure while a solution to CCD is implemented,” the project’s website says.

Harvard’s Kevin Ma spoke to Business Insider about the team’s progress in building the bee-size robot since publishing its Science paper last year.

Following is an edited version of that interview.

Business Insider: Where are you a little over a year after it was announced that the first robotic insect took flight?


Harvard University/Kevin Ma/Pakpong Chirarattananon

The RoboBee must be able to carry flight muscles, sensors, and a battery – and weigh less than a gram.

Sources : (True Activist)   /

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