Miniature drones explored as a pollinator replacement

Miniature drones explored as a pollinator replacement

The hummingbird-sized drone collects pollen just like bees and butterflies.

March 6, 2017
Science Magazine
Industry News

Pollinators around the world are in trouble: A recent report puts 40 percent of the smallest ones—like butterflies and bees—at risk of extinction. Could miniature drones fill the gap?

To find out, researchers ordered a small drone online and souped it up with a strip of fuzz made from a horsehair paintbrush covered in a sticky gel. The device is about the size of a hummingbird, and has four spinning blades to keep it soaring. With enough practice, the scientists were able to maneuver the remote-controlled bot so that only the bristles, and not the bulky body or blades, brushed gently against a flower’s stamen to collect pollen—in this case, a wild lily (Lilium japonicum), they report today in Chem.

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Photo: Thinkstock.com