Living IoT: Bumblebees Transformed Into Live Drones

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The majority of the hobby drones are only having a flight autonomy of 20 minutes because require plenty of energy to sustain them since they are rotary aircraft. However, more juice means larger batteries, and that fact is affecting the flying speed. What about insect-sized drones? Or better, what about turning insects into live drones? University of Washington researchers have done that, and transformed bumblebees into drones, in a project the researchers dubbed as the Living IoT (Internet of Things).

Living IoT is the name the scientists gave to their wireless platform, which contains sensors, wireless communication, and location trackers, and which is designed to be placed on live insects. According to the scientists’ recent study, the Living IoT worked flawlessly attached on bumblebees which hovered over crops, allowing the device to measure the temperature, humidity, and crop health.

The Living IoT platform is only powered by a tiny battery that lasts for only seven hours, but that’s a lot in comparison to the average autonomy of 20 minutes of the hobby drones.

Living IoT Turned Bumblebees Into Live Drones

“We decided to use bumblebees because they’re large enough to carry a tiny battery that can power our system,” said Vikram Iyer from the University of Washington.

“With a drone, you’re just flying around randomly, while a bee is going to be drawn to specific things, like the plants it prefers to pollinate. And on top of learning about the environment, you can also learn a lot about how the bees behave,” also said Shyamnath Gollakota, another participant in the Living IoT project.

Besides, Living IoT might also be of great significance for researchers who want to study bees. “With the [Living IoT] sensors, now we can understand bees’ behavior in the wild. We can potentially understand why these bees are going extinct. Now we have a bird’s-eye view of what the bee is feeling or sensing,” added Gollakota.