Researchers have developed small land robots that can collectively perform complex tasks and overcome obstacles like ants.
In nature, when an ant encounters a heavya valuable object, complex obstacle or cliff, it signals the need to help other members of the swarm. A team from the University of Notre Dame decided to use such interaction mechanisms to improve the efficiency of their many-legged robots.
To do this, they equipped each of the enlargedmechanical analogs of ants (15-20 cm long), a lithium polymer battery, a microprocessor, two magnetic touch sensors (front and rear) and a front light sensor. Each has four flexible legs.
Robots determine their orientation towardsto each other using magnetic sensors and, if necessary, can be combined to form a chain. This allows them to create a bridge to cross an abyss, or something like a centipede to overcome a difficult obstacle, as well as to move large and heavy objects together, unbearable for each individual unit.
According to the developers, such swarms can beused in search and rescue operations, for space exploration, environmental monitoring, or studying the collective dynamics of insects. However, first, the engineers want to increase the battery so that their energy is sufficient for at least 10 hours of continuous operation.
We also previously reported on the development of microrobots that change shape to perform various tasks.</p>