Walmart Seeking Patent Protection For Its Invention – “Robotic Bees”
As we all know, honey bees play a vital role in pollination. In recent days there is a threat to the honey bee population which affects the pollination process. This issue cannot be taken for granted as pollination is the backbone of agriculture and the food that we eat. People started reacting to this issue based on which, just a few months back USA supermarket giant Walmart has filed a patent for ‘Tiny Robotic Bees’. However, this is not to be considered as first pollination drone. In 2017, Eijiro Miyko of Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology spoke about development of its own cross pollination device. These robotic bees can pollinate crops like real bees; these bee drones would carry pollen from one flower to another to complete the process of pollination. Technically it is called as “pollinating drones”.
Walmart applies for patents in March 2018 to use the drone to identify the pests and protects crops. Walmart used machine vision to monitor damage to crops and spot identify the pests themselves. Drones could spray pesticides or simply fly to shoo off bird and act as “scarecrows or shiny devices” of next generation. These unmanned machines include at least:
1) One pollen applicator configured to collect pollen from a flower of a first crop and to apply it into a flower of second crop.
2) One sensor configured to detect presence of pollen applied to the flower of the second crop and one pollen applicator verify that pollen collected from one applicator applied that pollen onto another flower crop .
These drones can be used to spray pesticides only on the effected plants rather than doing it on the whole crop, thereby making it cost effective. Walmart ‘applicator’ carries pollen from one plant to another and uses the sensor to verify that the transfer was successful. These drones may become the next generation farmers reducing the human labour put into farming.