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Communications of the ACM

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Buzz Off, Bees. Pollination Robots Are Here.


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Artist's conception of a robot bee.

Across the globe, startups are testing robots to pollinate everything from blueberries to almonds.

Credit: Justin Metz

Farmers have long relied on insects, wind and even human workers to help pollinate their crops. Now, advances in artificial intelligence are helping some startups develop another way to pollinate plants: robots.

Across the globe, startups are testing robots to pollinate everything from blueberries to almonds. And in Australia, one company is so confident in robots' abilities that it will soon deploy a fleet of them to pollinate tomatoes in its greenhouses.

Pollination robots could give future farmers a significant advantage, increasing yield compared with using insects, such as bees, and the human workers who are sometimes needed to help with certain crops. Scientists are also concerned that insect populations are declining because of habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change and other factors, which would make pollination robots even more important.

From MIT News
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