Drones are usually associated to pilotless aircrafts operated by remote control. The US Army has recently invested 23 billion dollars in new drone crafts, and these figures are going to rise exponentially in the near future. While modern warfare enters the Gloomy Era of Destroying Robots, there is somebody who is flying in the opposite direction, choosing Life, instead. We are talking of Sissi Dinbear, an italian scientist with a Biology Degree from Turin University and a PhD in Robotics Engineering at WPI. Mrs Dinbear, better known as Lady Bee, developed a swarm of robotic bees that are just out of a science fiction book.
Above: the sliced view of the dronebee and its sophisticated machanisms (courtesy of the author). Opening picture: When at home, Sissi likes to bring the outdoor in. Her office is dimly lit by green solar-powered leds. “I like to think my office as a summer firefly field,” she says.
Above: Sissi testing the flight of a new honeydrone. “I live in Eden,” she says. “I spend 50% of my time in the garden, programming the flight patterns for my little friends. I teach them a sort of waggle dance, so that they can instruct other bees on where to find the nectar. The process is self-replicating. Bees are social animals, you know. And my honeydrones behave like real bees.”
Above: Sissi is checking a honeydrone’s CPU and flight mechanism with a Quick Bee-Tester. “My devices have no need for plug-ins or connecting cables. It’s all bluetooth, of course, and every bit of info is instantly transferred to my personal data-beese.”
Below: detail of a honeydrone at work. Note the green antennas, produced by JPL with aerospace tubular nano-technology. They can detect a flower a mile away, and find the way back even 50 miles from home. Compound eyes and microprocessors are made in Taiwan by Narl, based on Sissi’s design and specs.
The honeydrones are able to fly, suck nectar from flowers and produce real honey, more or less like a real bee. They learn flight patterns and memorize it, so that they can stay out for hours and come back to the beehive safely. They can produce 5 times the amount of honey of a normal bee and can work for a full day with no need of extra power supply, since batteries recharge directly from sunlight thanks to policrystalline photovoltaic wings.
Above: spare parts and microchips. Production of a honeydrone costs a lot of money, that’s why many flight tests are performed by mock ups stripped by all the expensive devices. Sissi told us her first honeydrone took her five years of non-stop work and half a million dollars. Several Universities are now supporting the project. “Bees are dying everywhere in the world,” she says. “We can’t explain why this happens but if the process continues, by 2040 we’ll all be dead. Bees are fundamental for the ecosystem. Thanks to impollination, we obtain crops, fruits, wood, fuel, clothes and many other vital things. Bees, not dogs, should be considered our best friends.”
Brandpowder developed a campaign for Honeydrone (above) and a worldwide corporate program to help Sissi to scale up her business through Institutions and Governments. “It’s crazy to think so much money is wasted on bloody wars every year, while vital projects get only a few pennies, if you are lucky,” laments Sissi. “Humans are a bunch of self-destructive idiots. We have a lot to learn from these little insects.”
Lady Bee and Frank Delano (Brandpowder’s P.R. executive) strike a pose for our photographer at the fund-raising Honeydrone Party held at the Meierholz Zurich Park, on May 26th.
The next dodo? Honeydrone is fighting to save these little furry sweet animals. Below: a short film courtesy of TED Talks / Louie Schwartzberg ©. Pay close attention to his words.