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Bees with backpacks can turn into sensor swarms

Bee with backpack
Bees with “backpacks” can still eat, control their flight and perform other normal behavior.
(University of Washington via YouTube)

Bees with tiny electronic devices on their backs could sound like a researcher’s dream come true, or like a science-fiction novelist’s nightmare come true.

Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor at the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, prefers the optimistic view. He and his colleagues at UW have found a way to pack environmental sensors into a backpack small enough for a bumblebee to carry.

The approach, which the UW team calls “Living IoT,” brings significant advantages over the human-made kind of drones.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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