Robotic Bugs Living and Working with Insects

Published by , October 9, 2017 12:43 pm

(Phys.org) Tiny robots that can be introduced and accepted into insect societies could be an important step towards using robots to subtly control, or work alongside, animals or humans. The research is being conducted as part of the EU-funded CyBioSys project, could be an important step towards using robots to subtly control, or work alongside, animals or humans. ‘The idea is to be able to solve (a) problem with a better solution than they (the robots and insects) can produce individually,’ said Dr Bertrand Collignon, who is leading the research at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland.
The robots, which ‘live’ with the ants, pick up signs that food has been discovered through a camera mounted inside the nest. The camera alerts the robots when it detects an increasing numbers of ants are departing – a sign that food has been found. The robots – reprogrammed off-the-shelf Thymio bots managed by simple Raspberry Pi computers – then use sensors to follow the columns of exiting ants. Once the ants have led their robotic counterparts to their discovery, the robots take over, using their superior muscle power to lug it home.