Festo’s Latest Bionic Technology – Artificial Ants
A German engineering company, Festo, has developed artificial 3D-Printed Bionic Ants which are the size of a human hand that imitates the cooperative behaviour of the real insects in the hope of revolutionizing the workforce of the future with the use of latest bionic technology.
As part of its Bionic Learning Network, Festo has developed a swarm of 3D-Printed Bionic Ants robot insects which seems like a super-sized version of the insect and are programmed to imitate the intelligence of their real world counterparts which includes their capabilities to co-operate as well as complete complex task like moving objects which are much larger than themselves, which they would not be able to do on their own.
Teamwork enables the ants to complete these complex tasks. Embedded stereo camera in each 3D-Printed Bionic Ants’ head, helps in determining its location as well as identify object which can be grabbed with grippers below its chin and the sensors underneath enables them with an intuitive sense of awareness as well as the ability to identify and grip objects with its pincers.
The 3D-Printed Bionic Ants have a unique design wherein their plastic body is 3D printed with electronic circuits which are overlaid on top with a machine. 3D-Printed Bionic Ants six legs which are powered by piezo technology and grippers are of ceramic actuators that can bend quickly and with accuracy, with the use of little energy while at the same time remain compact helping them in scurrying about efficiently in getting the task done.
Wireless Network to Communicate
3D-Printed Bionic Ants use a wireless network to communicate efficiently creating a mini production powerhouse. Utilising a series of complex algorithms, Festo’s focus is to discover intelligent robots which would help to pave the way for factories of the future which would run by an entirely independent workforce.
The company has also created robotic kangaroos which bounce on flexible blades, bionic elephant’s trunk which can be trained to pick objects as well as mock penguins that swim or float through the air to monitor their environment.The 3D-Printed Bionic Ants will be presented at the world’s biggest industrial technology trade fair at Hannover Messe from 13 to 17 April together with Festo’s recent creations such as the cooperative artificial butterflies.
Festo has stated in a press release at its website that `like their natural role models, the 3D-Printed Bionic Ants work together under clear rules. They communicate with each other and coordinate their movements and actions among each other. Their artificial ants thus demonstrate how autonomous individual can solve a complex task together working as an overall networked system’.
Piezo-Ceramic Actuators – Pressure Sensors
Simon Schmid from Festo had stated that “piezo-ceramic actuators are now mainly used as pressure sensors and in energy generation, their use in miniature robots is extremely rare.
Presently piezo valves from Festo are used on board vehicles for instance as comfort valves in seats and are also used in laboratory automation as well as in medical technology where they can meter the supply of air and oxygen in mobile respirators.
In view of their low energy consumption, their batteries seldom need changing. Moreover their switching process is almost silent; which reduces the burden on patients’.