Cooperative behaviour based on natural model
For the BionicANTs, Festo has not only taken the delicate anatomy of the natural ant as a role model. For the first time, the cooperative behaviour of the creatures is also transferred to the world of technology using complex control algorithms.
Highly integrated individual systems to solve a common task
Like their natural role models, the BionicANTs work together under clear rules. They communicate with each other and coordinate their actions and movements among each other. The artificial ants thus demonstrate how autonomous individual components can solve a complex task together working as an overall networked system.
In an abstract manner, this cooperative behaviour provides interesting approaches for the factory of tomorrow. Future production systems will be founded on intelligent components, which adjust themselves flexibly to different production scenarios and thus take on tasks from a higher control level.
Latest production methods and technologies
Yet not only the cooperative behaviour of the artificial ants is amazing. Even their production method is unique. The laser-sintered components are embellished with visible conductor structures in the 3D MID process. They thereby take on design and electrical functions at the same time.
In the actuator technology used in the legs, Festo utilises the benefits of piezo technology. Piezo elements can be controlled very precisely and quickly. They require little energy, are almost wear-resistant and do not need much space. Three trimorphic piezo-ceramic bending transducers, which serve both as an actuator and a design element, are therefore fitted into each thigh. By deflecting the top bending transducer, the ant lifts its leg. With the pair underneath, each leg can be exactly deflected forwards and backwards.
The making of: BionicANTs
What do ants and Industry 4.0 have in common? What challenges faced the engineers when it came to developing these delicate technology platforms? Take a look behind the scenes and dive into the world of the Bionic Learning Network.