With the decline of the bee population over recent years, you can bet that it’s an overwhelming crisis that people tend to overlook on a daily basis. But the truth is, we need bees to pollinate our flowers and plants and help sustain our ecosystem. Without bees, plants will die out, which can affect all humans and animals that need plants for food and shelter.
But recently, scientists have proposed alternate ways of pollinating plants should the bee population should diminish completely. One of these alternate ways comes from blowing bubbles. You heard right! Blowing bubbles!
Researchers at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have suggested the idea of having drones with bubble-blowing attachments (you know, the ones that you would see at a kid’s birthday party) to artificially pollinate flowers and plants.
How It Works
In recent years, researchers have developed a special way to simulate pollination using bubble-making GPS-controlled drones. What they did was create a bubble solution that would carry pollen, until it comes time to pollinate. Next, they would put that solution into a bubble machine that’s strapped onto the bottom of a standard hexa-copter drone. Then, they would fly the drone over flowers at a sufficient speed and height.
Bubbles are known to pop on their own, or if they encounter something, right? And, if they were to encounter something, then their burst would be harmless. As such, when they’re packed with pollen grains, these special bubbles can burst onto flowers, thus pollinating them.
As a result, researchers are able to demonstrate the following with these special drones:
- A 90% success rate in the study
- Drones’ ability to travel at two meters per second at a height of 2 (or more) meters off the ground
- Having each bubble carry around 2,000 individual grains of pollen
- The bubble-making device’s ability to spit out a near-constant stream of these special bubbles
But, with success comes speculation. Here’s how:
- First, not everyone is sold on the idea of letting robotic devices pollinate the Earth in place of bees. Other researchers have made the argument that using a piece of smart engineering to solve the bee shortage crisis would be detrimental to finding more effective and sustainable ways to tackle the problem, suggesting that things like protecting the bee population makes better sense than building technology to try and mimic bees.
- Second, although bubbles are considered biocompatible, they can still contain surfactants that can be harmful for the environment, if distributed to excess. And, although edible bubbles are already a thing, there’s still a need for more work on making the infrastructure of bubbles 100% safe for the environment.
- And third, drone technology itself still needs some improvements, too. When it comes to localization, mapping, and control, all three of these need to be made commercially acceptable and useful.
Will It Or Won’t It Work?
Although bubbles can’t target flowers in any way, you can still fill a field of crops with thousands of bubbles per second. But still, some more work is needed to make the bubble solution more eco-friendly.
Plus, most researchers aren’t working to take over for bees, but rather to, at the very least, compensate for the declining bee populations. Besides, even having robotic versions of bees can be making the problem worse, and ensure the extinction of bees. Therefore, there’s still work to be done in finding ways to stop or, at this time, slow the decrease of the bee populations.
Crystal clear: the idea of having drones spray pollen-filled bubbles in place of the dying bee populations is still a work-in-progress. In fact, skeptics, at this time, will be quick to point out all the flaws and downfalls that the concept has as is.
However, there’s still a possibility that this idea could work, if tweaked and tinkered around some more. While the idea of crop-dusting fields with pesticides has been used for years, as well as other tech-heavy approaches having been on the table numerous times, the bubble-drone approach involves releasing a payload over a particular area, with bubbles disappearing after delivering their payload, without leaving anything behind, and not damaging the flowers and crops. Is the idea unusual? Sure. But, you never know: it just might work.
Vanessa Kearney writes and edits at Phdkingdom.com and Write my research paper. She is also an editor for Thesis help. As a professional writer, she’s not only passionate about writing on various topics, but she also strives to create the best content in the ever-growing blogging industry.
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