Pollination is a key act of nature that allows crops to grow and flourish, but as more and more bee colonies perish, it may be time we consider a pollination robot. Developed and constructed at West Virginia University, this pollination robot blends together ground robot technology, computer vision and complex algorithms to serve as a solution to the possible extinction of pollinating bees. The robot was designed alongside entomologists and horticulturalists to ensure the robot is perfect for pollination and can one day operate outside of a greenhouse.
The key to the robot lies in its robotic arm, which comes equipped with a set of soft brush tips designed to act like the hairs on bees. This fine brush allows the robot to collect pollen in a similar manner to bees and was inspired when the lead developer, Yu Gu, observed bees pollinating his neighbor's plants. The pollination robot is still in development, and is far from ready to use, but it shows a possible solution to pollination through man-made means.
Image Credit: West Virginia University Interactive Robotics Laboratory