Natural pollinators, particularly honey bees, are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. This poses serious risks for agriculture.Scientists at West Virginia University have recently developed an autonomous robot inspired by bees, which can pollinate bramble plants within a greenhouse environment.
We are getting closer to achieve robotic pollination!This is the first integrated test of BrambleBee in the greenhouse.Navigation, mapping, robot control, computer vision, and manipulation are all working together now.
Once the bot has completed a scan of the plants, it will analyze the flower locations to position itself in the most efficient place to reach the maximum number of flowers to be pollinated. The BrambleBee’s flower mapping was inspired by the mason bees, and its pollination mechanism was designed to gently distribute pollen without damaging the flowers.
The hardware is also working great and check out our newly built structure in the greenhouse and nice blackberry plants!Once we worked out a reliable flower pose estimation solution and refined our end-effector design, pollination with real flowers (instead of QR flowers) will probably happen in Fall. Stay tuned!