The Bees Can See

The University at Buffalo, in collaboration with researchers from Harvard University and the University of Florida, is leading a research project to equip robot bees with laser-powered sensors to function as eyes that will allow the robots to detect shape, size, and distance of objects around them. The project aims to develop miniature robots that may be used in disaster relief and agriculture.

From Driverless Cars to Autonomous Robot Insects

The robot bees are already capable of tethered flight and even moving underwater, but they are currently limited by their inability to perceive depth. The research team plans to address this by outfitting them with remote sensing technology called LIDAR. UB computer scientist Karthik Dantu says, "Essentially, it's the same technology that automakers are using to ensure that driverless cars don't crash into things… only we need to shrink that technology so it works on robot bees that are no bigger than a penny." Currently the LIDAR technology that is commonly used in self-driving cars are around the same size as camping lanterns, but Dantu’s team is already developing a miniaturized version that they're calling "micro-LIDAR."

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