Using 3D printers, researchers have created ants and butterflies, which closely resemble their natural counterparts.
Researchers from the company, Festo, have created flying drones that closely resemble beautiful butterflies that also have impressive coordinated flying skills. They have also created BionicANTs, who share physical characteristics of ants, and the design also incorporates many of the behavioral features of the highly social insects.
The BionicANTs are slightly over 5 inches long and weigh just over 1 ounce each. The BionicANTs created on a 3D printer are equipped with a small video camera, which provides vision to the robotic insects. The robotic insects recharge their internal batteries by placing their antennae against a charging station.
The researchers stated that the BionicANTs can carry out collective activities in much the same ways as their counterparts in the natural world. They use a wireless signal to communicate with each other to carry out their tasks.
Meanwhile the eMotionButterflies combine ultralight construction of artificial insects with coordinated flying ability. Researchers tested eMotionButterflies by installing ten cameras in their flying areas. Using infrared markers and transmitted positioning data to a central master computer, the researchers were able to coordinate the drones’ flight. This type of guidance and monitoring system could be extremely useful in factories, according to the researchers.
The researchers believe that the eMotionButterflies, with wingspans of around 20 inches, could be used in ways similar to small aerial drones.
The company spokesperson stated: “Flying is not only one of mankind’s oldest dreams, but also a recurring theme in the Bionic Learning Network. In association with universities, institutes and development firms, for years now Festo has been developing research platforms whose basic technical principles are derived from nature.”
The BionicANTS and eMotionButterflies will be showcased at the Hannover Messe 2105 trade fair for industrial technology, which will be held from April 13 to 17 in Germany.