On an amazing take on the power of ants applied to technology, researchers at Stanford University were able to combine not only the super-strength ants are known to possess, but also the ability to work as a team in order to achieve the incredible.

Thanks to the work of a group of researchers at the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory, the microbots’ endeavor is definitely a groundbreaking success.

Researchers were able to create a team of six microrobots capable of an impressive individual strength, yet when working together as a team they could pull a car weighing almost 4,000 pounds. And considering the total weight of all six microrobots is less than 4 ounces, it’s an incredible task, even for ants.

Photo: Gizmodo
Photo: Gizmodo

On several previous attempts from researchers to harness animal features and adapt them to the robots’ abilities, the latest accomplishments of tiny robots had been climbing walls and pull heavy weights by imitating the ants’ features, yet this new development could boost the microbots’ impact on technology significantly.

The research paper describing the ‘microTug’ robots amazing feat will be presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Stockholm on May this year. David Christensen from the BDML lab compared the amazing stunt accomplished by six tiny robots to the functional equivalent of six people trying to move three Statues of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower.

The secret behind the microbots’ amazing features doesn’t depend only on them working in tandem or having incredible strength, it depends on its biomimicry according to the researchers at Stanford University. Very much like gecko lizards, the microrobots are designed to imitate their sticky feet in order to support heavy cargo without slipping and still remove with ease.

The best from both

So, by combining the ants’ capacity to work together as a team, its super-strength and gecko lizards’ sticky feet, researchers developed a tiny robot that will surely have a huge impact on the world. Construction, designing, security and rescue are just some of the areas the ‘microTug’ robots can be applied for in order to enhance its efficiency.

As researchers continue to observe the nature’s way of doing things and learn to adapt these concepts to technologies, its improvement as well as its adaptability, is guaranteed.

“By considering the dynamics of the team, not just the individual, we are able to build a team of our ‘microTug’ robots that, like ants, are superstrong individually, but then also work together as a team,” said co-author of the research David Christensen.

Source: The New York Times