In the spring time, you’ll see dozens of birds, butterflies, and bees flying from flower to flower in your backyard. As they fly, they bring pollen from one plant to the next, helping them grow and stay healthy. Animals have been our best pollinators, yet. But now they face competition.
Scientists have just designed a drone that pollinates. A recent U.N. report just warned that 40% of pollinators face extinction. And that is where science stepped in to help fix the problem.
How do they make the drones?
The drones are made with the same structure as our most famous pollinators. It is tiny, has wings, and a fuzzy exterior to carry the pollen. The small drone, that is only the size of a hummingbird, was decorated with a strip of horsehair paintbrush material covered in ionic liquid gel. It has four spinning blades, as do many drones.
What will the drones do?
The scientists who ran the experiment were able to control the drone carefully enough that only the parts covered in bristles brushed against the flower’s stamen. This made it much easier for the drone to collect pollen, rather than completely destroy the flower.
The drone’s new hair is covered in a gel that has a very long lasting adhesive quality. This gel keeps the pollen on the drone and lets it transport to the next flower just as easily. This gel also blends with the color of its surroundings, protecting the drone from any potential predators.
When will they be active?
Unfortunately, these bots can only be powered by humans. This means these drones are extremely ineffective when it comes to a “swarm” of them. The good news is, just like our cars, they are learning how to fly on their own using GPS and AI. We will not see these in our backyards any time soon, but we will definitely see them buzzing around sometime in the future.