Robots that can keep an eye on a hive, perform a waggle dance, or even enter the queen’s court may be able to influence a colony’s health.
Thomas Schmickl, an Austrian scientist, studied there for a portion of the academic year. It “felt awful,” he adds, as he took his routine daily trek across the fields to campus. And it wasn’t until I heard a bumblebee that I understood why. Schmickl, who currently serves as the director of the Artificial Life Lab at the University of Graz in Austria studies conducted globally has revealed that insect populations are either changing or dropping. Schmickl decided to turn his work around and create robots to help nature, a notion he calls ecosystem hacking, after working in the field of swarm robotics for a while and utilizing nature to inspire robots. He is considering bees. Schmickl thinks that by helping honeybees and other pollinators, we can improve entire ecosystems as they struggle with habitat loss, pesticide exposure, and other issues.