A US Retailer Just Filed A Patent For Robotic Bee Drones

If you’re tired of hearing tech articles open with “like an episode straight out of Black Mirror ”, then we have bad news for you: we’re doing it again. Walmart has filed 16 pages with the American government that outline six patents working towards farm automation and it’s legit the plot from Hated in the Nation .

If all goes to scheme, a fleet of droning bees could very well be on the horizon- and you thought a door-opening dog was cool.

Technically called “pollination drones”, the autonomous robotic bees could help offset loss caused by declining bee populations by use sensors and cameras to carry pollen from one plant to another.

But that’s merely one patent. In plans for the other five, Walmart also outlines how to monitor crop damage utilizing machine vision to way, spot, and identify pests and act as new-age “scarecrows or shiny devices” to shoo off pesky birds.

Citing inefficiencies of harvest dusting, another patent outlines plans to spraying pesticides in a way that targets harvests rather than the blanket approach used today. “Chemical spraying of harvests is expensive and may not be appeared upon favorably by some customers, ” reads the patent.

The 16 -page document outlines six patents, including ways to see and deter pests, spray pesticides, and pollinate harvests.

The patents were filed last autumn, but it was just uncovered by CB Insights, who say the retail giant could be doing it to save costs by “vertically integrating its food supply chain” and manage harvest yields more effectively. While it’s still unclear, some outlets speculate that the discount grocer might have plans to grow and control more of the food it sells.

It seems like a logical next step considering Walmart only announced plans to expand its delivery service to more than 800 stores, serving more than 40 percent of American households. Then again, perhaps the $80 billion corporation simply wants to do a little bit of good in the world.

Some scientists, however, say that while there may be possibilities for bee dronings, we should work to protect the biodiversity that we still have rather than simply replace it with machines.

Bees pollinate nearly one-third of the food we eat, but have been succumbing at unprecedented rates in large portion due to colony breakdown disorder, although suits have declined in the last five years.

According to the patent, bee declines lead to reduced fertility, biodiversity, and production of harvests.

In 2013, Harvard first introduced “RoboBees” that fly and hover in midair, but they had to be attached to a power source. Researchers said they could be used in crop pollination, search and rescue missions, surveillance, high-resolution weather, and climate and environmental monitoring. Today, RoboBees can now carry a battery the style employee bees carry pollen- just like in Black Mirror . The dronings can swim and even stick to surfaces utilizing static electricity.

But even Harvard hasn’t figured out a route to remotely control their electronic bugs- something Walmart’s patents plan to do.

[ H/ T: CB Insight]

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