The Loh Down On Science

Bionic Bees

Flying robotic bees: cool gadgets or the stuff of nightmares?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Apiphobics—that’s people afraid of bees—beware. Scientists in England are attempting to build robots that act like real bees.

Why, you ask?

Well, honeybees have pretty sophisticated senses of sight and smell. These let them locate specific flowers and navigate to and from the hive. An artificial brain that works as well as a real one would create quite the buzz!

So engineers at the Green Brain Project are working on computer models of the bee brain's scent and sight structures. The hope? To eventually create robots that act autonomously based on their senses, instead of simply following preprogrammed instructions.

But fear not!  These robots are friendly. They could sniff out dangerous gases, or aid in mechanical pollination.

So take a deep breath, and smell the artificial pollen.  Bee robots are your friends!


The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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