Agriculture is becoming increasingly hi-tech: bumble bees now analyse crops!


Somehow like drones, but better! What if crops were analysed by bumble bees? Researchers from the University of Washington have developed a series of sensors that are so small and lightweight that they can be placed as tiny "backpacks" on the back of bumble bees, pollinating insects from the bee family.
Flying from flower to flower, each with its own "technological load", and following the path that normally leads them to search for nectar, bumble bees can cover an area that is fairly extensive to provide a considerable amount of useful information to farmers: temperature of crops, lighting conditions and humidity levels, just to name a few.
The instrument is powered by a tiny battery that is wirelessly charged every night when the insects come back to their hive. In the meantime, each backpack downloads the data collected via radio signals: the position of each bumble bee - and hence of the data collected - is triangulated by a series of antennas placed at the borders of the area to be controlled.
For the time being, each cyborg-bumble bee can collect only 30 Kb of data per day: not many, but enough to imagine the future development of this technology. What is the next objective of researchers? To install a tiny camera on the backpack that can send real-time images of plants so as to check their health and growth.
This expedient is much more effective than classic drones, whose autonomy is still limited and is subject to frequent interruptions to change or recharge their batteries. At 255hec we are developing similar technologies to obtain and to historicize many more data. Contact us if you’re interested!