Fleets of drones could pollinate future crops | Science News

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Fleets of drones could pollinate future crops

A forgotten, failed experiment sent a robot airborne

By
12:00pm, March 7, 2017
illustration of a pollinator drone in action

ALL ABUZZ  Flitting drones (illustrated above) might one day help bees and other insects pollinate flowers and crops, according to chemist Eijiro Miyako.

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Eijiro Miyako gets emotional about the decline of honeybees.

“We need pollination,” he says. “If that system is collapsed, it’s terrible.”

Insects, especially bees, help pollinate both food crops and wild plants. But pollinators are declining worldwide due to habitat loss, disease and exposure to pesticides, among other factors (SN: 1/23/16, p. 16).

Miyako, a chemist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan, became passionate about the loss of pollinators after watching a TV documentary. He remembers thinking: “I need to create something to solve this problem.”

His answer was in an 8-year-old jar in his lab.

In 2007, he had tried to make a gel that conducts electricity, but it was “a complete failure,

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