Scientists Worried Walmart's New Robot Bee Patent Could Hurt Earth

Monday, 19 March 2018 - 12:02PM
Monday, 19 March 2018 - 12:02PM
Scientists Worried Walmart's New Robot Bee Patent Could Hurt Earth
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By this point in our planet's ongoing journey towards environmental ruin, we're all well aware of the fact that the bees are disappearing.

Huge colonies of these adorable buzzing insects have been decimated for murky and unclear reason, but it does seem that our insistence on using insecticide to keep our lettuces unspoiled is probably causing some negative side effects.

Losing the bees is a big deal for humanity's food sources. Bees pollinate many common plants and crops, so without them, we're looking at the worst kind of food shortage imaginable: the man-made famine.

Proof, if ever we needed it, that people are not as smart as we think we are.

As the current bee shortage gets worse, many scientists have been looking for ways of creating an artificial bee to pick up some of the slack. This makes sense—artificial pollination techniques have already been in use for decades, and as autonomous flying drone technology improves, it's possible to make smaller and smaller robots that could play the role of the humble honeybee.

In a bizarre twist of fate, one unexpected company has filed a patent for miniature robot pollinators. Walmart, the best place to go to see the absolute worst side of the human condition, now controls the next generation of bees. Because who doesn't want Walmart to be essentially in charge of choosing who gets the honor of being able to grow food?

The dangers of a vertical market monopoly aside, this is fairly good news in that it means that we probably won't all go hungry once the bees all do die out.

There are already plenty of robotic alternatives to flying insects in the works, and with this variety comes an interesting different number of ideas for solving these problems.

Robotics engineers are also getting better at designing small flying robots that can travel around at speed, despite a lack of onboard processing power in these tiny pintsized bots. Plus, a robot bee could be made to look like the badniks from a Sonic the Hedgehog game, which is always a fun prospect.

Of course, for all the advantages posed by Walmart's new patent, such a project has never been enacted on such a grand scale; many scientists are worried that a proliferation of robot bees could have unintended effects on the environment.

All said, though, it would be really great if, in the face of the upcoming food apocalypse, we did try to actually save organic bees rather than simply replacing them. Quite aside from anything, honey is delicious!

What's more, it's probably not a good idea to fill the world's farmland with tiny metal insects that can further pollute or disrupt these ecosystems. Your dinner probably won't taste to great if a downed robot bee's lithium-ion battery has been leaking into the soil while the food was growing!