Tiny mobile robots are learning to work with insects in the hope the creatures’ sensitive antennae and ability to squeeze into small spaces can be put to use serving humans.
With a soft electronic whirr, a rather unusual looking ant trundles along behind a column of its arthropod comrades as they march off to fetch some food.
While the little insects begin ferrying tiny globules of sugar back home, their mechanical companion bustles forward to effortlessly pick up the entire container and carry it back to the nest.
It is a dramatic demonstration of how robots can be introduced and accepted into insect societies.
But the research, which is being conducted as part of the EU-funded CyBioSys project, could be an important step towards using robots to subtly control, or work alongside, animals or humans.
‘The idea is to be able to solve (a) problem with a better solution than they (the robots and insects) can produce individually,’ said Dr Bertrand Collignon, who is leading the research at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland. Continue reading “Tiny mobile robots are learning to work with insects so they are accepted in the colony”