Scientists are creating Robo-Bees! #Robotics #Biomimicry


Via Wired

Tiny drones dressed in horsehair and coated with a sticky goo have been attempting to pollinate lilies in a Japanese lab. The $100 quadcopters, measuring just 42mm-wide and weighing 14.8g, can be heard buzzing in the background on a short film, before zipping in to make clumsy contact with the target.

“For now, my robot is possibly just a proof-of-concept,” admit Eijiro Miyako, a chemist from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) Nanomaterials Research Institute (NMRI). “But it does make sense for the future. We’re doing the best; we’re looking forward,” he told WIRED.

The project came about entirely by chance. A decade ago, Miyako was investigating liquids to be used as electrical conductors. One output, a sticky gel made using an acrylic to polymerise an imidazolium salt, failed to work. It was left in a storage cabinet, in a bottle with no cap, and forgotten. Two years ago, when Miyako had to move out of the lab, he decided to tidy up. “I noticed the gels collected dust, which made me think they might work to attract pollen.” At the time he was “emotionally motivated” by what was happening to honeybee populations. “I thought we urgently need to create something for these problems.

“This project is the result of serendipity. We were surprised that after eight years, the ionic gel didn’t degrade and was still so viscous. Conventional gels are mainly made of water and can’t be used for a long time, so we decided to use this material for research.”

Ants were the first test subjects, with 30 anointed with a gel droplet and left in a jar of tulips. “After three days, we carefully observed their body by electron microscopy to count pollens. We [compared] the hybrid ants and wild ants without the gels – hybrid ants had 1,000 times more pollen than wild ants.” The gel also has a camouflage effect, thanks to the photochromic chemical compounds in it, says Miyako. “I’m sure that camouflaging properties of this gel would help our artificial pollinators to protect against attacks from enemies like clever birds and bigger insects.”

To help the gel adhere to drones, then brush off on flowers, Miyako’s team turned to horsehair. “The diameter of horsehair was ideal for coating the gels and collecting pollen. More importantly, horsehair is a biodegradable, eco-friendly material.” The flying robots could carry about 2mg of pollen per flight, attached to the vertically-aligned horsehairs. But the drones need to be painstakingly manoeuvred to the flowers using a radio-wave controller.

See more!

810 1

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.