“HoneyBot” Robotic Bees Take Historic Test Flight


Guest Post – from John Schmidt

John “J.J.” Schmidt is a student studying biodiversity at the University of Texas at Austin. He writes regularly for the UT student newspaper and occasionally contribute to the Austin EcoNetwork. 

This Easter Sunday, thousands of robotic drone bees will make a historic test migration from their launch site in Laredo, Texas to Austin, Texas. The bees are expected to arrive in Austin at around 7 PM, reporting for collection at Mueller Park.

Bee Migration

The “HoneyBot” project, five years in the making, has been a collaboration between South Texas State University and Austin Bees. According to members of the research department, it took months to program the bees to recognize flowers, and they still sometimes get confused by fake flowers, or flower-printed material. But Sunday’s test flight will focus solely on migration, which is the most efficient delivery system for these autonomous bees.

Brandon Fehrenkamp, owner of Austin Bees, says that the smart robotic bees were “trained” by his live bees. “It was amazing to see the drone bees actually learning movements from my live bees. Of course, nothing replaces the beauty of a real bee, and drone bees can’t make honey.”

Several robotic bee prototypes are in development around the world, such as Plan Bee. Critics of these types of programs fear that drone bees could be hacked and used for nefarious purposes, a concept that was recently explored in an episode of Black Mirror.

But whatever your opinion, be sure to look to the skies this evening as a glittering, buzzing cloud of robotic honey bees descend on Austin. It’s all the buzz.

drone bee

For a more precise tracking of projected times and locations, see www.honey.bot.com/aprilfools  😉

Please note – editorials and sponsored posts are written by guest writers to inform and educate the community on a variety of different viewpoints, as well as to share information about local eco-friendly businesses and organizations. However, they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Austin EcoNetwork. 

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