If you’re tired of hearing tech articles open with “like an episode straight out of Black Mirror”, then we have bad news for you: we’re doing it again. Walmart has filed 16 pages with the US government that outline six patents working towards farm automation and it's legit the plot from Hated in the Nation.
If all goes to plan, a fleet of drone bees could very well be on the horizon – and you thought a door-opening dog was cool.
Technically called “pollination drones", the autonomous robotic bees could help offset losses caused by declining bee populations by using sensors and cameras to carry pollen from one plant to another.
But that’s only one patent. In plans for the other five, Walmart also outlines how to monitor crop damage using machine vision to track, spot, and identify pests and act as new-age “scarecrows or shiny devices” to shoo off pesky birds.
Citing inefficiencies of crop dusting, another patent outlines plans to spray pesticides in a way that targets crops rather than the blanket approach used today. “Chemical spraying of crops is expensive and may not be looked upon favorably by some consumers,” reads the patent.