Ants may be the perfect workers, they share chores, solve complex problems and work to the death without complaint. German engineering firm, Festo, created the Bionic insects to improve factory robots by taking inspiration from ants behaviours and appearance – nature's most diligent insect has been emulated in plastic and metal with the creation of BionicANTS. The engineering company have crafted the machines to mimic the cooperative behaviour of an ant colony; the robot ants can make individual decisions as well as works as a team.
The BionicANTS are about the size of a human hand and are capable of manoeuvring objects, and the machines work together to complete difficult tasks – such as manipulating a larger object. The ants do this by using a stereo camera fitted in each robot's head which helps an individual locate and identify target objects.
Sensors enable an ant to be aware of its surroundings and the robotic insects communicate over a wireless network to coordinate their actions. The BionicANTS have 3D printed bodies with electric circuits printed on top, while their legs and grippers are ceramic actuators which can be easily and precisely maneuvered using little energy. The aim of the project is to create intelligent robots that could work in factories, taking over production jobs from humans.
Have a look at the video below to find out more about the BionicANTS: