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. This image is 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. The researchers are working on creating 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.
Image credit: Harvard University