Drone as Artificial Pollinator


Pollination is done by insects and animals which allows plants to reproduce. There are two types of pollination the self-pollination and cross-pollination. Fertilization cannot be complete without the transfer of the pollen from the male part of a flower to the female part of another flower. A new invention has come its way to pollinate plants which is a tiny drone. This drone are equipped with horsehairs coated with a special gel that makes the process of pollination possible. Eijiro Miyako, a Japanese Researcher is one of the authors of the study from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan. He said that this is the world’s first demonstration of pollination by an artificial robotic pollinator. Drone as artificial pollinator could it really help?

Pollination Drone of the Future

With $100 drone readily available in the market, the researchers attached horse hair bristles from a paint brush to act effectively as the pollinator, like the torso of a bee. The hair bristles were coated with sticky gel which is used to capture the pollen when the drone touches the flower. It acts like  a semi-permanent “glue” to attach the pollens. This gel developed by Miyako a decade ago for a different purpose has a distinct quality specialized in. Eijiro explains “Conventional gels are mainly made of water, so they evaporate quickly, which makes them useless for this application. Our sticky gel does not evaporate even if put in a vacuum or a hot oven,”.

Moreover, he even tried to keep it for a long time. Time has never changed the quality of the gel in respect with size, volume and viscosity. Which makes it an ideal candidate as an agent in the pollinator. Could drone as artificial pollinator replace the bees?

Importance of Pollination and the

A report released by the United Nations indicated that about 75% of the world’s crops depend at least in part on pollination. With its estimated value to food between $235 billion and $577 billion a year. Moreover, the same report revealed that many pollinators are under threat like bees and butterflies. They are part of a group called invertebrate pollinators, which 40% of species face extinction.


The setup involved a huge flower and a controlled drone, but he hopes this will change soon. “I believe that some form of artificial intelligence and GPS would be very useful for the development of such automatic machines in future,” Miyako said. With regards to this possibly replacing pollinators, director of the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State University, Christina Grozinger, said that there is a little chance. “Pollinators have evolved specialized behaviors to work with different kinds of flowers” she said. The proposed drone as artificial pollinator does not have any of these specialized behaviors. Thus, really can only ‘pollinate’ flowers that are extremely easy to pollinate.


Drone as Artificial Pollinators

This topic gathered so much attention to the online community. Honestly, no technology could ever replace the efficiency of bees. This drone can only be manually operated by a user however, it does not preform like the bees. Bees naturally do their work on autonomous mode which makes it really good. These organisms could do more job since it travels around the hive. It creates a better output than this drones. However, I as an advocate for technology and environment calls everyone to stand up and make a change in the environment. I hope this article will tell you nothing can replace bees. Drone as artificial pollinators will never replace the quality and quantity of work bees do.