Cooperative behaviour inspired by nature

Ants are hard workers that live in large colonies with a clear hierarchy. Working as a team enables them to perform tasks that a single animal would not be able to manage on its own. This is why we drew inspiration from more than just the delicate anatomy of real ants when creating the BionicANTs. For the first time, the cooperative behaviour of the creatures is also transferred to the world of technology using complex control algorithms.

Intelligent subsystems for solving a common task

Like their natural role models, the BionicANTs work together according to clear rules. The small robots communicate with each other and coordinate their actions and movements with each other. The artificial ants thus demonstrate how autonomous individual components can solve a complex task together by 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 that adjust themselves flexibly to different production scenarios and thus take on tasks from a higher control level.

Latest production methods and technologies

It is not only the cooperative behaviour of the artificial ants that is amazing; even their production method is unique. The laser-sintered components are enhanced with visible conductor structures in the 3D MID process. They thereby take on design and electrical functions at the same time.

The actuator technology of the legs makes use of the advantages of piezo technology. Piezo elements can be controlled very precisely and quickly. They operate with little energy, are virtually wear-free and require little installation space. Three trimorphic piezo-ceramic bender actuators, which serve both as an actuator and a design element, are fitted in each thigh. By deforming the top bender actuator, the ant lifts its leg. The pair attached underneath enables each leg to be exactly moved forwards and backwards.

BionicANTs: each ant combines numerous components, technologies and functions in the smallest of spaces

Sophisticated concept: each robot ant combines numerous components, technologies and functions in the smallest of spaces

A look behind the scenes of the Bionic Learning Network

What do ants and Industry 4.0 have in common? And what challenges did our engineers face when it came to developing these intricate, cutting-edge technologies? Take a look behind the scenes and dive into the world of the Bionic Learning Network.

The making-of video