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Research & Technology

Walmart begins farming with robot bees

The US retail giant has filed six patents for drones that will pollinate flowers, among other things. But research on autonomous flying microrobots has been in full swing for years now.

18 May. 2018
Walmart begins farming with robot bees (Photo: Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chirarattananon)

In light of insect decline and the associated imminent collapse of plant life, researchers from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institutes for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University began developing robot bees in 2001. After 12 years of refining the development, the first RoboBees were presented in May 2013 . Modeled on flies, the tiny robots could hover and fly vertically. Now, the insect-sized Autonomous Flying Microrobots are also capable of "resting" on a wide range of surfaces and plunging into water.

American retailer Walmart has filed six patents for agricultural drones , intended to detect garden pests, monitor plant health and pollinate crops like bees, among other things. These developments could be a signal that the retail giant would like to focus more on farming in the future in order to better control its food supply chain and to lower costs. If things go according to , the remaining bees will get a condition monitoring system via NB-IoT.