All posts by Daniel Davies

If the decline of bees continues, researchers have a plan to unleash swarms of robot bees to pollinate crops

Bees are vital to most of the world’s food crops but their numbers have been declining in recent decades, so researchers at The University of Manchester are working towards a future where they are replaced by robot bees.

According to Greenpeace, the global economic benefit of pollination amounts to some €265bn, but bee populations have been in decline due to factors such as diseases and parasites, climate change and wider industrial and agricultural practices.

However, researchers at the University of Manchester have begun work on mechanical bees that could pollinate crops and flowers.

Image courtesy of The University of Manchester

“We’re aiming to create the world’s first robot bee that can fly unaided and unaccompanied,” said Dr Mostafa Nabawy, microsystems research theme leader at The University of Manchester’s School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering.

“Imagine if the current trend of a declining bee population continues, swarms of robot bees pollinating crops and flowers could become a reality. Whilst this may sound like something out of a transformers film this is our ultimate aim.”

In addition to robot bees, the researchers are also developing robot spiders that could be used in field such as engineering and manufacturing.

The robot spiders have been modelled on a specific species of jumping spider called Phidippus regius, which can jump up to six-times longer than its own body length from a standing start.

Image courtesy of The University of Manchester

Having analysed how real spiders make such leaps, the team has now begun developing prototype robots that can mimic these biomechanical movements.

“For our robotic spiders research we are looking at a specific species of jumping spider called Phidippus regius. We have trained it to jump different distances and heights, recording the spider’s every movement in extreme detail through high resolution cameras which can be slowed down,” said Nabawy.

“We are now using this bio-mechanical data to model robots that can perform with the same abilities. With this extensive dataset we have already started developing prototype robots that can mimic these biomechanical movements and jump several centimetres.”

The researchers’ work on robot bees has been released days after it was revealed that hoverflies may be spreading infections that are deadly to bees.

Forget all about cryptocurrencies now we know 50 Cent doesn’t have any

2018 has been quite a year for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general.

First the value of Bitcoin is about half what it was in December 2017, but its falling value hasn’t stopped people and companies attempting to cash in on the notoriety surrounding cryptocurrencies.

We’ve already had to put up with KodakCoin, PutinCoin and Whoppercoin, which is a cryptocurrency only for buying Burger King Whoppers, but probably more disappointing than all of those stories is the news that 50 Cent lied about being a Bitcoin millionaire.

In court documents reported on by The Blast, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson admitted that he never owned BitCoin, and only went along with an incorrect report from TMZ who said he did because “so long as a press story is not irreparably damaging to my image or brand, I usually do not feel the need to publicly deny the reporting.

He added: “This is particularly true when I feel the press report in question is favourable to my image or brand, even if the report is based on a misunderstanding of the facts or contains outright falsehoods.”

Featured image courtesy of Marcin Kadziolka / Shutterstock.com

50 was forced to deny owning Bitcoin to refute the idea that he failed to disclose alleged interests in the cryptocurrency while he is involved in a bankruptcy.

Initial reports, somewhat confirmed by Jackson, suggested he had earned millions in bitcoin after allowing his 2014 album, “Animal Ambition,” to accept the cryptocurrency as payment.

Reports suggested he banked 700 bitcoins, which was valued to be worth between $7 million and $8 million.

According to the documents though, 50 says “Animal Ambition” did accept bitcoin payments, but it was converted to US dollars by a third party before it ever reached him or his companies.

50 now claims that he has never owned any Bitcoin.

And with that news, I’m done with cryptocurrencies.