An artist's conception of a robotic bee, created as part of the Harvard University RoboBees Project, one of three new Expeditions in Computing awards made by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering in the summer of 2009.
Funded at $2 million per year for five years, these projects represent some of the largest single investments made by the directorate. The projects allow academic researchers and their collaborators to explore ideas that promise significant advances in the understanding of the computing frontier, while also yielding great benefits to society.
Bees and bee colonies have long been held up as models of efficiency and coordination. Using a host of different sensors, unique communication protocols, and a precise hierarchy of task delegation, thousands of bees can work independently on different tasks while all working toward a common goal--keeping their colony alive. Researchers in this Expedition will create robotic bees that fly autonomously and coordinate activities amongst themselves and the hive, much like real bees. The research team aims to drive research in compact, high-energy power sources, ultra-low-power computing and the design of distributed algorithms for multi-agent systems. Furthermore, the RoboBees created will provide unique insights into how Mother Nature conjures such elegant solutions to solve complex problems.
To learn more about the RoboBees Project, visit the project's website. (Research supported by NSF grant IIS 09-26148.) (Date of Image: 2009)
Credit: Harvard University