Robots Helping Bees

A German research facility has been tricked out with robotics and cameras to unlock the mysteries of bee behavior.

By now, everyone’s heard of the scary decline in bee populations. While you may not want them at your picnic, bees are necessary to sustaining agriculture through cross-pollination. (Did you forget middle school biology? While collecting nectar, bees can transfer pollen from one flower’s stamen to another flower’s stigma, which can fertilize the plant and produce seeds/fruit.)

To collect data in hopes of protecting future bee populations, the Audi Stiftung für Umwelt (Audi Environmental Foundation) and the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg have opened a bee research station at Audi’s production site in Münchsmünster, Germany.

Dubbed “Smart Hobos” (HoneyBee Online Studies), the project will allow researchers to study a beehive in a wooden cabin with minimal disturbance. A robot arm with 360-degree movement has been outfitted with infrared and heat-sensitive cameras, as well as 3D sensors, to capture bee activity. Other parameters such as temperature, humidity, and light exposure will be monitored, too. 

Audi is abuzz with environmental initiatives. Read more about the project, and their other efforts to help the environment and biological diversity.

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