Turkish uni receives global innovation award for ‘Robot Bees’

Turkish uni receives global innovation award for 'Robot Bees'

The Middle East Technical University (METU) has been awarded a global innovation award Friday for developing robot bees. These robotic bees are designed to feed bees under the threat of extinction worldwide and can monitor hives using artificial intelligence. The award was presented at the World Governments Summit held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). METU’s team was recognized for their project, which was selected as one of the two best projects among 13 global innovations. The competition was organized by the Edge of Government platform as part of the World Governments Summit, where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the guest of honor. Erol Şahin, director of the METU Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Technologies Research and Application Center (ROMER) and a Computer Engineering Department faculty member, shared details about the project named “Roboroyale,” which is supported within the EU Framework Program Horizon. The project was initiated two years ago by an international consortium led by Durham University, including METU-ROMER, Czech Technical University and Graz University. It involved a research and development team of 20 people. Each country in the consortium played a different role in the project. Şahin emphasized the critical role of bees in the ecosystem and the dangers posed by their disappearance. “With the project, we aim to develop new-generation beehives equipped with the latest technologies,” he said. “As part of the project, we’ve developed an AI system capable of continuous monitoring inside the hive, ensuring the well-being of bees, particularly the queen bee. Additionally, it mimics worker bees to feed the queen bee from outside. We’ve also created the first prototype of microrobot bees that can be controlled. Our goal is to eventually have these robots clean, feed, and maintain the hive, ultimately aiming to protect and enhance hive health,” Şahin explained. Highlighting the importance of a robust worker bee population for ecosystem health, Şahin noted, “More worker bees lead to increased pollination, resulting in greater fruit production and more seeds, which means more food. This cycle helps protect the entire ecosystem.” Şahin emphasized their commitment to safeguarding the queen bee’s health, even in challenging conditions, stating, “As scientists, we are dedicated to finding solutions to protect bees facing extinction, ensuring the continuity of generations. A healthier queen bee produces better offspring, contributing to a healthier hive. We hope that the bees from these hives, pollinating flowering plants, will improve the plant and animal ecosystem, creating a healthier world.”