Researchers in France called their sixth-generation AntBot creation. This 9-inch robot does not just revolve around like a desert. an ant – he also borrows his unique navigational skills.
These skills, demonstrated in a new study published Wednesday in the Science Robotics magazine, could once allow robots to find their way home without the need to use common tracking methods such as GPS.
Insect or spider-like work is not entirely new. Work with the legs, in contrast to those on wheels, better cross the rough terrain. But AntBot researchers based at the University of Ex-Marseilles in southern France have turned to two very different types of feeding for inspiration in their design: Cataglyphis fortis Sahara and Melophorus bagoti of Central Australia.
According to the author's author Julien Dupeira, an engineer and graduate student in the Ex-Marseilles bioread, desert ants travel long distances in search of food, but they can not use their sense of smell, to come home, thanks to the burning environment in which they live. But they found ways to compensate.
The key is that the desert ants can not refer to the paths of pheromones in order to find their way, because the molecules that fell to the ground would have been immediately destroyed by extreme heat, "Dupeira said, adding that the time of the ants can reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit per trip. "Throughout its evolution, the ants of the desert, as Cataglyphis have developed sensory modalities to make them able to localize as they enter the nest."
In other words, the ants use various tricks to help them understand and memorize & # 39; To know where their homes belong to their current location – the ability that scientists call the integration of the path (when people do it, it's called a dead calculation).
The components of the ants' eyes, for example, contain unique photoreceptors that capture ultraviolet light from the sun, which is polarized by scattered air molecules. This UV-light pattern, however, changes as the sun moves in the sky. By tracking these landslide structures, the ants essentially have an internal, heavier compass, which allows them to determine in which direction they collide. The same technique could be used by sailors-wicks in the sea to navigate on dark days.
They can also track how fast the earth moves in their eyes, which is known as an optical stream (next time you, for example, in a car or bike, just pay close attention to how the world seems to be moving past you – it's an optical flow). The optical stream, along with the awareness of the ants how many steps they made during the walk, allows them to judge how far they have gone. Put it together with the celestial compass, and you have a living, breathing self-steering device with six feet.
Dupeyroux and his team raised these tricks, along with an ant pillar, to create a 3D-printed, Raspberry Pi fully autonomous AntBot. They then sent the bot to accidentally walk around for a short time in different environments before asking him to return home.
AntBot was decent enough to find the fastest way home using only one or two
The results suggest AntBot does not quite "think" like an ant, partly because we do not fully understand how desert ants use all their navigation signals. But AntBot's almost perfect work is still striking, Dupuero said, especially since it was done with relatively inexpensive technologies and materials. an array of sensors that completely simulated the components of the eyes of the ants. But less sophisticated bot detectors could still reproduce the unique photoreceptors used for the celestial compass; they also helped reduce the final cost of design and production of AntBot to about $ 500.
"We have shown that our solution is biologically plausible and that it also has outstanding results," he said. drones or smart cars, Dupeira said. Ideally, these work uses a combination of different navigation methods, including GPS. But the AntBot gimmicks can provide certain benefits over existing methods in certain situations.
"Although GPS has a great influence on world navigation, it suffers from several frontiers," Dupeira said. These include the failure of the signal when around tall buildings; A relatively small area of precision for smaller devices, such as smartphones, and not particularly good on cloudy, rainy or snowy days. AntBot and work like this should, at least in theory, work around these limits.
So far, however, there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the robot. go on to navigate. In its present form, it moves only at short distances, "Dupeira said. Due to the small, easily overheated engines used to help it move and rotate, along with its limited power supply, AntBot can only move 15 meters (49 feet) at a time. "Now we are working on a new pretext for our robot to be able to perform 100-meter trajectory in real-world conditions." power.