New robots inspired by trap-jaw ants have been created by researchers at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The robot ants weigh just 10g and are capable of communicating with each other and working together to complete tasks. Assigning roles amongst themselves to carry-out complex tasks the reconfigurable robot ants are simple in structure but are capable of crawling and jumping to explore uneven services.
The T-shaped origami robots are called Tribots and can be assembled in just a few minutes by folding a stack of thin, multi-material sheets, making them suitable for mass production. Tribots are equipped with infrared and proximity sensors for detection and communication purposes and could be equipped with even more sensors depending on different applications.
“Despite having the same anatomy, each robot is assigned a specific role depending on the situation. ‘Explorers’ detect physical obstacles in their path, such as objects, valleys and mountains. After detecting an obstacle, they inform the rest of the group. Then, the ‘leader’ gives the instructions. The ‘workers,’ meanwhile, pool their strength to move objects. “Each Tribot, just like Odontomachus ants, can have different roles. However, they can also take on new roles instantaneously when faced with a new mission or an unknown environment, or even when other members get lost. This goes beyond what the real ants can do”.
To learn more about the robot ants jump over to the EPFL website.