Researchers from Northeastern University are working to develop robotic bees. Steps have been taken to develop both the hardware for miniature flying robots (e.g. microchips, fuels cells and transmitters), and the software to simultaneously manage large numbers of robotic bees. The aim of these advancements is to mimic natural swarm behaviour. The research also aims to develop an artificial beehive, which would be used as a refuelling station.
- The robotic swarm was initially developed to gather evidence about the conservation and husbandry of insect populations and more ambitiously for pollination.
- The advancements made have led to the development of new manufacturing techniques and flying micro-robots.
A number of new applications have arisen for the micro-robot ranging from traffic monitoring to search and rescue, and hazardous environment exploration. A benefit of this technology may be more advanced gathering of data supporting species conservation. However, some may perceive this as a technological advancement that solves the conservation issue via replacement. Like any new technology, care may need to be taken in communicating its application, benefits and risks.