Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Ant studies to aid design of search and rescue robots

A study showing how ants tunnel their way through confined spaces could aid the design of search-and-rescue robots, according to US scientists.
A team from the Georgia Institute of Technology found fire ants can use their antennae as "extra limbs" to catch themselves when they fall, and can build stable tunnels in loose sand.
Researchers used high speed cameras to record in detail this behaviour.
The findings are published in the journal PNAS.

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We could watch these glass tunnels and really see what all the body parts were doing when the ants were climbing and slipping and falling”
Nick GravishGeorgia Institute of Technology
PhD student Nick Gravish, who led the research, designed "scientific grade ant farms" - allowing the ants to dig through sand trapped between two plates of glass, so every tunnel and every movement could be viewed and filmed.
"These ants would move at very high speeds," he explained, "and if you slowed down the motion, (you could see) it wasn't graceful movement - they have many slips and falls."

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