The next Dr. Wily could plausibly get his start at Harvard on this project to create robotic bees.
Robots based on real animals are all the rage nowadays, with fish-mimicking robots one of the other more recent stories out there. This time, the insect kingdom is the focus, as Harvard researchers have recently been given a $10 million grant for the purpose of creating robotic bees.
The National Science Foundation is funding the 5-year “RoboBee” project that is sure to lead to a real-life Mega Man scenario. It starts small, with robotic bees, surely created for useful purposes like to “[understand] how to artificially mimic the collective behavior and intelligence of a bee colony, foster novel methods for designing and building an electronic surrogate nervous system able to deftly sense and adapt to changing environments, and advance work on the construction of small-scale flying mechanical devices,” along with opening the door for “discoveries and practical innovations, advancing fields ranging from entomology and developmental biology to amorphous computing and electrical engineering,” according to the RoboBee official project website. Next thing you know, these things have nerve-toxin coated stingers and we have to hire the blue bomber to save us all.
It’s probably best if we end this project before it even starts; do we really want to live in a world run by animal-themed robots and a mustachioed man that rides around in a giant mech that is weak to energy bullets shot into its mouth? I certainly don’t. Then again, maybe the RoboBee project really could lead to “energy-efficient computers optimally designed for custom applications, new tools to make air travel safer and healthcare interventions more effective, and robotic bees that lend a helping hand in search and rescue operations,” as its members claim. Is it worth the risk?