The Birds, the Bees, & the Drones

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Flower Power

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has applied for a patent for drone pollinators. They have done so to make up for the decline of bees in the face of global warming, which has impacted the outpour of food the company sells.

The patent was published on March 8th with with U.S. Patent Office, but it has not yet been approved. Walmart’s design describes small unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) that would be pre-programmed to jump between plants, collecting and depositing pollen en route. A second drone would follow the first, ensuring that the pollen was correctly distributed. Some drones could be controlled by computers; some by humans.

In an official statement to USA Today, Walmart said, “We’re always thinking about new concepts and ways that will help us further enhance how we serve customers, but we don’t have any further details to share on these patents at this time.”

The dwindling population of bees is a major concern for the agriculture industry. Apart from the commodity crops (i.e. wheat, rice, & corn), many fruits & vegetables require pollinators to reproduce. There have been past attempts to replicate the pollination process — such as crop duster plants — but most methods have thus proved to be inefficient and expensive.

By contrast, the Walmart patent might prove different. The patent describes various versions of the drone and the myriad of possible pollination techniques. The drones might even buzz!

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