These robotic ants and butterflies act like the real things.
Well, it looks like Festo’s SmartBird, BionicKangaroo and BionicOpter are getting two new siblings. That’s because the German automation company has introduced the latest addition to its growing family of biomimetic robots: an ant and a butterfly.
First, the aptly named BionicANTS are designed to cooperatively operate. In other words, as a whole, they can complete complex tasks such as move larger objects, head to a specific location or conduct their own flash mob if they’d really like. Each 5.3-inch BionicANT is comprised of various components that are laser-sintered and finished with visible conductor structures and electrical circuits attached to its exterior.
A majority of the ant’s frame, as well as the electronic circuits located on the outside of its body, are 3D-printed. A radio module on its abdomen enables the robots to communicate with one another, while piezo-ceramic bending transducers are tasked with pushing movements, lifting its legs and activating its gripping jaws. A 3D stereo camera in the ant’s head allows it to see, an infrared optical sensor on its underside records the distance traveled, and a microprocessor distributes all the necessary signals. Beyond that, a pair of on-board Li-Po batteries provide up to 40 minutes of wireless power, before requiring to be recharged in a dock via their feelers.
Similarly, the beautiful eMotionButterfly also uses collective behavior through an intelligent networking system. As they soar through the sky, they can manuever along pre-programmed paths inside special areas equipped with 10 high-speed infrared cameras — this keeps them from crashing into each other, walls or any other object. Each 20-inch butterfly weighs just 32 grams, and are equipped with two servo motors, some electronics and two small Li-Po batteries that gives them enough juice to fly at 2.5 meters per second for four minutes before they need to be recharged.
Interested in learning more? Fly on over to Festo’s official page here, and be sure to watch both the ants and butterflies in action below.