American retail giant Walmart is looking to increase their role in the food-growing business by investing in new drone technology to monitor and take care of crops.
Reuters reports that Walmart filed six patents with the US Patents and Trademark Office in 2017, all of which pertain to to fertilizing or crop-dusting drones.
Why should I care?
We get it, agriculture isn’t a topic that gets many people frothing with excitement.
Food security, however, is a vitally important issue and one that could affect your diet dramatically in future.
The world population is expected to increase to nearly 10 billion by 2050 and we will need new and novel ways of increasing our food production without damaging the environment.
The proposed drones will pollinate (think fake bees), distribute fertilizers precisely and monitor the health of the crops – finding pests and applying pesticides at targeted spots rather than spraying the entire crop.
The patent for pollinator drones might come as an alarm to fans of brilliant Netflix series Black Mirror.
* SPOILER ALERT*
In the final episode of the third season (Hated in the Nation), a tech company has supplemented the declining bee population by producing robotic bees equipped with AI to help keep food production stable. Naturally, being Black Mirror, the bees are hacked, weaponized and unleashed on the hapless British public.
The above reference does not bear much similarity with reality but the issue of declining bee population is frightening. with many bee populations decreasing or disappearing around the world, food security will be an increasing issue for the future.