3D-Printed Bionic Ants Work as a Terrifying Team

From Popular Mechanics, an article about 3-D printed bugs that work toward a common goal:

Ants are known for their selflessness, working collectively for the greater good of the colony in order to move giant crumbs up giant anthills. That’s also the case for BionicANTs, Festo’s new group of 3D-printed robotic ants. BionicANTs (ANT stand for Autonomous Networking Technologies) act like their biological counterparts, putting group goals ahead of individual interests so they can accomplish more complex work than they could do alone.

Like the industrious insects, BionicANTS can find and move objects that are bigger than their own bodies. Real ants do it by adhering to a strict caste system and communicating via pheromones, sound, and touch. Robotic ones do it with the help of stereo cameras on their heads to establish the location of nearby objects; chin grippers; optical sensors on their feet to read infrared lines on their floor; and a radio module for communication. The robotic ants are also outfitted with battery contacts on their antennas and piezo-ceramic bending transducers to move their legs. Most of each ant, including its outer electronic circuitry, is 3D-printed.

Read the whole thing and watch the video.  Pretty amazing, and somewhat scary, too.  See New Scientist for the original article.

This entry was posted in 3-D Printing, Automation, Innovation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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