back to article Stick glue on a drone. Fly it into a flower. World hunger solved, bee-lieve

A failed science experiment involving a sticky gel has been revived to create robot pollinators. If you're picturing the robo-killer bees in Black Mirror, the ones that arrive in huge swarms to drill through the victim's eardrum to destroy the brain, then stop right now. Reality is depressing, and these droids don't look …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Timmy B

    Good Freekin' Lord...

    Just spend the flipping time and money on figuring out what's killing the bees... We're doing it with pesticides and creating massive great mono-cultures I suspect - feel free to use that as your starting point. Though the real issue is that there are just too many people.

    And it's all well and good using huge flowers - I'd like to see that work on something small like apple blossom.

    I despair sometimes I really do.... sigh.....

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      1. Timmy B

        Re: Good Freekin' Lord...

        Symon - thanks. Some interesting reading there. Silly to comment until I've read it all. Though I will say that I am in favour of a global population cap, mainly because I prefer pretty mush every other aspect of the natural world to human beings (except spiders).

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Good Freekin' Lord...

        Ah yes, the Haber process. I'm not sure that the process developed for mass production of ammonia, for the use in munitions, is the right way to go about controlling population growth though.

        If you accept that a planet of finite size cannot support an infinite population, then you have to accept that there is an upper limit for population. On the other hand, if you have developed a way to fit an infinite amount of mass into a finite space, then can I have a trip in your TARDIS please?

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Good Freekin' Lord...

          There is an upper limit of population, and we're heading for it at 11 billion* by the end of the century. By then population growth flattens out. This may upset people who would like the chance to sterilise or kill other people (certainly not themselves, of course), but I'm not going to weep over their lost ambitions.

          To head off those who will say 'How can we feed so many people?', first you need to realise that we can already feed all the people on the planet. It's just that most of the food tends to be bought up -- and a good proportion of that left to rot -- by the wealthy nations. The populations of Europe and the Americas are set to shrink slightly, while Asia's will rise by a quarter. The difficulty will be in Africa, where the population is set to quadruple over the next 80 years (even with shrinking family sizes, because people born over the next decade are likely to live until the end of the century). However much of Africa's agriculture is still done at the family plot level, with nothing but a hoe and a spade: modernisation offers a way out of the food problem they'll otherwise face.

          *Assuming we don't start the next set of resource wars after losing too much land to the sea. Or that Trump wonders what that big red button might do...

          1. JLV

            Re: Good Freekin' Lord...

            Generally agree with your sentiment, the world is not about to end.

            However, I don't fully agree with

            >tends to be bought up grown -- and a good proportion of that left to rot -- by the wealthy nations

            If Nigeria's population, for example, is set to peak @ 750M by 2100 (by some high-end estimates*), then, what is our responsibility in the matter? The fact that population grows most in poor countries is not surprising. However the fact that most of the surplus food is grown in countries that are managing their population is going to make for rather uncomfortable ethics. Giving away food, as some well-intentioned people tend to suggest - "we grow enough in North America to feed everyone" - has the potential to be pretty much the death knell of many African farmers' businesses and make the rest dependent on our goodwill.

            Also, Nigeria is part of tropical Africa. There's a lot of space, but without looking into it, I wouldn't be sure that its forests would support mass agriculture to the extent needed by these numbers. Looking at Brazil for example, the Amazon does not make for a perfect grain growing area.

            i.e. the world will not end, but it would be nice if we stopped pretending that countries' decision to be irresponsible wrt population growth is their God-given right. Also speaking of God-given rights, it'd also be nice if certain rich nations stopped throwing spanners in family planning projects, just to please their Bible-thumping constituents. Coercion is not the answer, and is ethically shaky, but surely helping them to slow down gradually is in our mutual interest.


        2. Filippo Silver badge

          Re: Good Freekin' Lord...

          Obviously a planet of finite size cannot support an infinite population, and therefore there is an upper limit for population. But the boundary set by that argument is so high as to make that argument useless.

          The actual limit would be more or less determined by how much food we can produce, and *that* is a whole lot harder to estimate because it depends on many things including future technological advances, something that is notoriously hard to predict. It could be that the limit is ~10 billions or lower, in which case we're screwed, but it could be significantly higher. It could very well be that it's high enough that we'll bring everyone at a western standard of living, with its associated stabilization of growth, long before that. Or maybe not. Believe what you will; there is really no way to predict this. But discussions about infinity don't really prove anything interesting.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. cd

      Re: Good Freekin' Lord...

      If it helps any, where I live there are wild beehives about 1/square mile, of which we have many. I have visitors slurping at my birdbath water every day.

      While I agree about preferring wild animals to humans, the other day I witnessed a bee pile on to another bee, they rolled into the water, and the attack continued with an attempted drowning. I was able to pretend to be fate and flick them both out onto the porch floor, but lost track after that.

      My point being that they aren't "all the same", despite casual appearance. We rail about IBM's treatment of workers on here, but then see swarms of insects the same way they see their employees. Useful lesson that could actually be used against them if we thought it through.

  3. Steve K Silver badge

    Can use for bikini waxing too by the look of it.....

  4. Glowzmanz

    Black Mirror comes alive

    And they haven't seen Black Mirror?! We're all gonna die!!!

    But yeah, sort out real bees first.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Black Mirror comes alive

      I only watched the exact episode the other day,.

      To anyone who hasn't watched "black mirror", its a peach of a series!

      3 seasons worth...

  5. Dabooka Silver badge

    There is an easier fix

    Stop Monsanto and Bayer from doing their thing.

    If their pesticides are killing the things that makes the crops grow in the first place, THEN THEY'RE DOING IT WRONG!.

    So as john McClane would say, if you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem so quit being a part of the fucking problem!

  6. Chris King
    Black Helicopters


    Aren't those blades going to blow pollen away from the drone, before it has chance to get close enough to the plants ? Maybe a long probe might be better, like the long bill on a hummingbird ?

    Icon, because a drone THAT big would blow away the plants, let alone the pollen.

  7. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    That's a teensy-tiny drone.

    And, if they paid $100 for it instead of $10 from Banggood, they wuz robbed

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: That's a teensy-tiny drone.

      Came here to say the same thing. Anybody who wants to annoy the cats on the cheap, look for Cheerson CX-10 on your favorite Chinese craptat supplier website. They even have a version with a built in (craptastic) video camera that is barely any bigger.

  8. Ilsa Loving


    I'd like to see them try that on a real flower whose petals are nowhere near as resilient to being chopped up by propeller blades.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: LOL

      Looks like they've only been able to collect pollen, not actually do anything useful with the pollen they've collected like actually pollinate another flower.

      Then I would like to see the experience done at scale... remember your typical bee hive will have circa 20,000 worker bee's foraging for pollen...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LOL

      Then let's make metal flowers that can withstand the onslaught of the prop wash! FULL METAL FLOWERS, you guys!!1!

      It would be interesting to get a count of how much pollen is being picked up by the stickypad, and how much is being sent through the air by the propellers. You might not need the stickypad. But I MUST have a tiny microdrone now. Thanks, El Reg. :P

  9. Baldy50

    Thought I'd...

    Read something about this before, not this site though WTH, can't remember.

    More should bee done to protect them, pollution/pesticides etc, just seems a bit of a waste of money!


    Don,t know where to post so...

    Can he cure his ugliness I wonder? Double bag job! Probably look better after a few hundred bee stings.

    DV all you like.

  10. bdeluca

    Think of the employment potential, having to service and fly all those drones to replace natural bees.

  11. RichardB


    I would have thought this would translate into a pretty decent game, good stats options, lots of different game modes, open world sandbox, could be pretty impressive.

  12. Pat Harkin


    Plant sex just became plant S&M.

  13. malcontent

    Isaac was there first

    didn't Asimov come up with this? I recall robotic humming birds which darted around a garden ingesting the bugs and then excreting them for compost. His idea was that by having the robots (AI/drone or whatever) do these tasks which were 'helpful' to the human 'masters' resistance would be gradually worn away and greater acceptance would follow. It'll never catch on.

  14. razorfishsl

    So the solutions are:

    1. get a free pollinator from nature, something that has been honed for tens of thousands of years is 100% bio degradable and self repairing.

    2. Poison the planet with man made insecticides to wipe out natural solutions then make some landfill plastic shit that requires massive resources to work & service the tasks previously taken by a natural solution. finally make that so it is not bio degradable.

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