A leading scientist from our Department of Computer Science has collaborated with researchers from University of Graz, Czech Technical University and Middle East Technical University to build robotic bee replicants that will affect the whole ecosystem.
Dr Farshad Arvin is leading the RoboRoyale project, where he is combining miniature robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for the robotic bees to have interactions with the honeybees’ queen, such as stimulate egg laying in the queen by feeding her the right foods at the right time.
The RoboRoyale project combines microrobotic, biological and machine-learning technologies to nurture the queen honeybee’s well-being.
A unique aspect of RoboRoyale is its sole focus on the queen rather than the entire colony.
The multi-robot system, which the team hopes to start testing in the coming months, will learn over time how to groom the queen to optimise her egg laying and production of pheromones – chemical scents that influence the behaviour of the hive.
The team’s aim is that the robot bees can potentially stimulate egg laying by providing the queen with specific protein-rich foods at just the right time to boost this activity.
As a result, they expect to have healthier broods and more active and healthy bee colonies, which will then improve pollination.
The system enables six to eight robotic court bees, some equipped with micro-cameras, to be steered inside an observation hive by a controller attached to them from outside.
The end goal is to make the robotic bees fully autonomous.
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