The Beeonic is a robotic bee that would be used to pollinate flowers in farms and greenhouses across the country. It was designed to compensate for the decline of real honeybees due to a virulent parasite.
Origin of the Idea
The Varroa destructor mite is presently decimating bee colonies in North America, which is having an impact on the beekeeping industry and specifically bee pollination of apples, blueberries, broccolis, cranberries, etc. This multi-billion dollar industry is at risk, and our collaborator Olivier Peraldi suggested creating a type of miniature drone to compensate for the decline in bees. So I teamed up with Juan Garcia Mansilla to develop a unique kind of miniature robot : The Beeonic.
How it Works
There are many ways to address the task of crop/flower pollination, and we have chosen to keep the look and feel of real bees as a form of respect to them. Accordingly, the Beeonic would have the same dimensions and looks as regular honeybees. They could probably be sold in packs of 50 directly to farming operations.
The head of the Beeonic would be designed to pick-up and convert wireless electricity from a base station and recharge a supercapacitor mounted in its head. The wings could also be used to capture the sun’s energy if this charging method becomes efficient.
The main propulsion would accomplished by the motorized wings, capable of generating the lift required to raise the bee and its payload of pollen and orient it wherever it needs to fly.
The pollen intake door would be located under the thorax of the Beeonic. A small vacuum pump would suck in the pollen and store it in the abdominal container.The tip of the abdomen would feature an exit valve for spraying pollen.
All six jointed legs could be used to support and secure the Beeonic when it lands on a flower. The front legs could also be motorized and work as manipulators if the Beeonic needs to work on delicate flower parts like the Pistil.
The Beeonic would use recently developed VR Tracking technologies coupled with sensors and accelerometers to navigate. It would be able to communicate with its peers and even transfer power from one unit to the other by inductive power transfer.
The Beeonic could also emit different colours so that its operator could quickly know its status, and the Beeonic app would be used to control the Swarm and diagnose each unit.
What It’s Used For
Using miniature drones to pollinate crops has its advantages. It makes even more sense if you can operate these drones at a lower cost compared to the present cost of real bees. As discussed before, we created this concept in response to the shortage of bees—not to compete with the existing industry. The shape, flying mechanism, and charging system of the Beeonic could take various forms, and we’re open to all suggestions and comments.
The Beeonic concept was developed in collaboration with Juan Garcia Mansilla, an Industrial Designer from Argentina. Juan graduated from the University of Buenos Aires in 2012 and currently works as a senior designer for a product design firm and as a freelancer. He also created the design of the Canopi tree-crossing vehicle and the Paspartu six-wheel-drive amphibious explorer.