Bio-Cyber Physical Systems

The goal of this project is to leverage and improve upon the capabilities of honey bees as agricultural pollinators by incorporating them into Bio-Cyber Physical systems.

Social insects are capable of robust sustained operation in unpredictable environments far beyond what is possible with state-of-the-art artificial systems. A colony of honey bees causes pollination by dispatching tens of thousands of scouts and foragers to survey and sample kilometer-wide areas around their hive. Thus, the colony as a whole accumulates vast information about the local agricultural landscape, bloom and dearth — information that would be very informative if available to farmers and beekeepers.

To harness the capabilities of a bee colony while still providing control and sensing, we are working on 1) novel submillimeter flight recorders; 2) algorithms and models to estimate foraging maps; and 3) feedback control via a bee-mimicking shaker device to recruit foragers. This may reveal new insights on 1) ultra-low power electronics and sensing, 2) probabilistic inference from large scale distributed data sources, 3) feedback control of biohybrid systems, and 4) gains to apiculture and entomology.

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation 2017-2020.


Poster presentation at the annual NSF CPS PI meeting in Washington DC, Nov. 13-14th, 2017.

Construction and OptiMization by Bees


Where ‘amorphous’ structures, such as the ones created by the termites would be hard for our robots to replicate, let alone navigate, robots inspired by bees may shape amorphous materials into regular patterned structures for easier navigation.  We are specifically interested in 1) how thousands of locally informed bees coordinate to decide which type of cells are needed (to rear drones or workers), and 2) how these can be built in geometrically confined spaces with minimum material waste and maximum rearing capacity.