Tech that mimics bee pollination flights could be used with drone

By Ricoh USA | July 17, 2017

Ricoh USA Inc. has announced that Paul R. Gauvreau of Canyon Crest Academy in California has won this year's Ricoh Sustainable Development Award (RSDA) and associated $10,000scholarship at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2017. The award program, bestowed by Ricoh for the 13th consecutive year, honors students who develop innovations that strengthen environmental sustainability. Gauvreau won for inventing a self-pollination device that increases pollination efficiency by nearly 2,000 percent by mimicking bees' vibration for pollination – an incredibly timely innovation in an era when the honeybee population is in crisis.

"Environmental sustainability is about ensuring a bright future, and no one is more invested in the future than the youth," said John Brophy, Vice President, Product Marketing, Ricoh USA, Inc. "Ricoh is proud to support innovators like Paul R. Gauvreau, who are working hard to help ensure a sustainable future for all of us. The declining bee population is a major issue, which could have a devastating impact on food supplies worldwide, and Paul's invention could significantly help efforts to avert that crisis. We are glad to play a role in empowering tomorrow's technology leaders to work smarter by starting to save the world today."

Gauvreau won this award at Intel ISEF, the world's largest international pre-college science competition. The Society for Science & the Public program, established in 1950, includes more than 1,800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions and territories, who present their independent research in competition for approximately $4 millionin awards.

Gauvreau's project reflects the Biodiversity Conservation and Pollution Prevention of the four pillars of Ricoh Sustainable Environment Management. Additionally, his research directly addresses sustainability in food supplies and farming at a global level. The decline of the honey bee population and its resulting impact on pollination are pervasive global issues that threaten human health and population growth, food supplies, local and global economies, and biodiversity conservation.

While the self-pollination device offers a high return on pollination efficiency, it has a low barrier to being implemented and can easily be deployed by modifying readily available materials like an off-the-shelf mega-copter or drone. This scalability is especially important for small farmers, who can use the invention at a cost that is relatively low when compared with the massive loss of their investment in honeybees or the cost of traditional, expensive agricultural equipment and fertilizer. Farmers who have seen the invention have embraced it, solidifying that it is as useful as it is novel.

The winning project stood out in a crowded field of 455 thoughtful submissions from student researchers around the world. From this vast pool, nine interview candidates were selected. With a winning combination of ingenuity, impact and real-world viability, Gauvreau joins the ranks of more than 30 students whose projects have been honored throughout 13 years of the RSDA program, which has awarded more than $400,000 in scholarships.