U.S retail corporation Walmart has reportedly filed a patent for autonomous robotic bees that could potentially pollinate crops, Business Insider reported.
The drones would carry pollen from one plant to another, using sensors and cameras to detect the locations of the crops, the article said.
The robot bee patent appears along five other patents for farming drones, including one that would identify pests and another that would monitor crop health.
The article reported that while Walmart’s exact goal for these patents is unclear, they may signal that the company hopes to venture into agriculture and gain more control over its food supply chain.
Walmart is not the first organization to create a robot bee. In recent years, scientists have searched for solutions to the decline of honeybees.
Harvard University researchers introduced the first RoboBees in 2013. While at the time the technology was limited, today the RoboBees can even stick to surfaces, swim underwater and dive in and out of water.
According to Business Insider, though Harvard’s bees can do several tricks, they still can’t be remotely controlled. The robotic bees described in Walmart’s patent, however, would have this capability, along with the ability to automatically detect pollen.