Walmart Wants To Create Robot Bees And It Actually Kinda Makes Sense

Diply 16 Mar 2018

Big companies file for patents all the time in the hope that the technology they're working on will help streamline their business.

We hear a lot about Amazon wanting to deliver stuff via drones, but not a whole lot about Walmart.

That is, until Walmart made clear its intention to create robot bees.

Robot bees?

Brookstone | Brookstone

Yes, robot bees. Or, if you want to be specific, autonomous robotic pollination drones.

Walmart filed its patent application earlier this month in an effort to lock down the technology. It's pretty interesting (if weird) stuff for a retailer to patent.

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What do these bees do?

Wikimedia Commons | NASA

These little drones would be equipped with artificial intelligence (hence the "autonomous" distinction) and would buzz around, looking for plants to pollinate. This would be achieved using an on-board array of cameras and sensing devices.

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Walmart's been busy as a bee.

Wikipedia | Wikipedia

Walmart applied for a bunch of other patents around the same time and all of them focused on one area: farming. The other patents, like the bee drones, seem aimed at automating aspects of farming.

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This all kind of makes sense.

Amazon | Amazon

Like Amazon, Walmart has been making a big push into groceries in recent years. Automated farming would help these retailers shorten the supply chain and lower the costs of the food that they sell.

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What else could these drones do?

Redbubble | Redbubble

In addition to pollinating crops, the patent application says they could shoot targeted bursts of pesticide or shoo away birds.

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There's something to this targeted approach.

Wikimedia Commons | Zeynel Cebeci

Pesticides are usually sprayed over a large array of crops at one time. By targeting just the trouble areas, Walmart could save on pesticides and appear to be (a bit) more green.

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These could actually replace some functions that bees serve.

Medium | Medium

Bee populations are struggling and this is a problem because bees are big pollinators. Although it would be nice to leave it to nature, humans may have to develop technology to fill this void.

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Walmart hasn't had anything to say on their robot bee program.

Giphy | Giphy

Is this a smart move or will it end up like the final scene from The Wicker Man? Only time will tell.

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