back to article I'll bee back: Boffin's bionic bug Band-Aid after real ones all die

From the department of "just because we could, doesn't mean we should" comes news that researchers are planning swarms of robotic bees and spiders. Insisting that micro robots "really aren't anything to worry about", Dr Mostafa Nabawy, Microsystems Research Theme Leader at the University of Manchester and bionic-bug-botherer- …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black Mirror

    that's all.

    1. Ye Gads

      Re: Black Mirror

      If they're starting to make robot bees then it's time to start being much nicer to people on social media

  2. ibmalone Silver badge

    Didn't Isaac Asimov already cover this?

    1. Ivan Vorpatril

      Kage Baker wrote the Empress of Mars. It had robot pollinators called "bi"s. It appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction in 2003.

  3. Notas Badoff

    So we're talking...

    humba's to neaten up the fields?

  4. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Nothing to fear

    When swarms of robotic bees are deployed, just hunker down until the first software update, which will either totally disable them or make the Africanized organic sort seem positively benign. far more likely the former. (Always look on the bright side of life). Or, you know, stay in a mobile dead-zone.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    A new meaning

    To Zzzkynetzzzz.

    Don't let Monsanto hear about this, they'll be selling robo-bees with every bottle of insecticide.

  6. TechnicalBen Silver badge


    That's like trying to use a laser to shoot down drops of rain to stop your head getting wet.

    If bees or spiders are in danger, then help them. Or change the crops.

    Robotic bees will not replace real bees. Just as glasses don't "replace" eyes.

    If these people want to make robotic insects, then that is cool, great research and can be a good thing. They either need to fire their marketing, or get a grip or reality.

    1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      "If bees or spiders are in danger, then help them."

      Based on current events, what you do is replace the bees* with a person on minimum wage with a small paint brush. If they're lucky the collecting the pollen is done using automation, so all you need to do is "paint" the pollen onto the flowers.

      It's very common on a micro scale for breeding plants, and it gets used in China and India on quite large scales.

      "Or change the crops."

      Many of these crops are from trees. Planting an orchard is a pretty serious investment, you can't just replant with a different crop next season.

      Much the same issue with telling Cali farmers to rip out their almond orchids (IIRC requires bees too) to cut down on their water usage. The costs are even more front loaded than usual with agricultural production, and it takes a few seasons to get production up to speed.

      So changing crops is not as easy at it may appear, and the alternative is manual labor. Sounds like a perfect case for automation :)

      * the bees have died off or not doing enough, rather than they being phased out

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: MonkeyCee

        Thanks for the info (I knew about private cultivation options, no idea if it was used industrial scale).

        My example was merely saying *where* the problem was. For example, if you get a flat tire, the solution is not to turn the road into rubber and inflate it. Though both options work (metal wheels on rubber/rails, or inflatable wheels on a tarmac road. ;) ).

        So while I agree there are obstacles to helping bees/spiders and difficulties changing crops/pollination/ecology, they are easier and better solutions than "make artificial *and* robotic bees". :P

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      Now you've added a laser umbrella to my wanted list. Can't decide whether to put it before or after the flying car though.

  7. onefang Silver badge

    It had to be said.

    I, for one, welcome our new robo-insect overlords.

  8. davidp231

    Would these be mechanical fly swatters?

    1. Coen Dijkgraaf

      Would these be mechanical fly swatters?

      No, the would be Would these be electric fly swatters.

  9. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

    Power to weight?

    Have we invented something as effective as bee or spider muscle to power these things?

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Opens up a whole new approach to wasp control.

    "Suicide bomber" robo wasps to infiltrate the nest before triggering their on board thermite load and fry the little bu**ers in one strike.

    Just thought I'd get that idea out of my system.

    1. davidp231

      Re: Opens up a whole new approach to wasp control.

      Wouldn't something uranium, or plutonium based be more thorough? Stop them coming back too.

      1. Celeste Reinard

        Re: Opens up a whole new approach to wasp control.

        I guess it would stop the neighborhood coming back.... for a 100 years. Nevertheless, great idea. You're hired!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is just the precursor

    to the world being covered in "grey goo" due to intelligent reproducing nano-bots.

    The Xenons were invented this way IIRC

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



  13. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Puny humans!

    Prototype spiderbots already exist that can jump several centimetres, and the real thing can jump six times longer than its own body length. Far better than the abilities of a puny human.

    Than a puny human, perhaps. A magnificent specimen such as myself is easily capable of jumping several centimetres or six times longer than the body length of a spider. Why, I did it just the other day.

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