As Bee Population Declines, Pollination Robots May Take Over

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Researchers around the world are increasingly focused on a pair of related but seemingly conflicting problems: how to grow enough food to feed a growing global population, and how to curb the use of agricultural pesticides and other chemicals. A proposal from engineers at West Virginia University floated a possible solution that could help both issues. Numerous companies are starting to grow crops in greenhouses, which allows them to better control the growing environment, reduce farming’s overall environmental impact, and forego pesticides altogether. Crops, however, need to be pollinated — an arduous process for workers who can’t quickly fly between flowers. To help those workers focus on other tasks — such as planting and watering — West Virginia engineers developed StickBug, a six-armed robot designed to pollinate crops in greenhouse environments.

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