classic | mobile
 

Search...

 

The soul of the ant
2nd Quarter 2017, Robotics & Mechatronics


Drawing inspiration from the delicate anatomy of the ant, Festo has transferred their cooperative behaviour to the world of technology using complex control algorithms. Like their natural role models, the BionicANTs work together under clear rules. They communicate with each other and coordinate their actions and movements among each other. Each ant makes its decisions autonomously, but in doing so is always subordinate to the common objective and thereby plays its part towards solving the task in hand. Thanks to this intelligent division of work, they are able to transport loads efficiently that a single ant could not move. The artificial ants thus demonstrate how autonomous individual components can solve a complex task together working as an overall networked system.

Unique production technologies

Not only the cooperative behaviour of the artificial ants is amazing. Even their production method is unique. The laser-sintered components are embellished with visible conductor structures using 3D moulded interconnect device (MID) technology. The electrical circuits are attached on the surface of the components, which thereby take on design and electrical functions at the same time. In this way, all the technical components can be fitted into or onto the ant’s body and be exactly coordinated with each other. After being put into operation, an external control system is no longer required. It is possible, however, to monitor all the parameters wirelessly and to make a regulating intervention.

The BionicANTs also come very close to their natural role model in terms of design and constructional layout. Even the mouth instrument used for gripping objects is replicated in very accurate detail. The pincer movement is provided by two piezo-ceramic bending transducers, which are built into the jaw as actuators. If a voltage is applied to the tiny plates, they deflect and pass on the direction of movement mechanically to the gripping jaws.

New application of piezo technology

Festo also makes use of the benefits of piezo technology for the actuator technology used on the legs of the artificial ants. The bending actuators can be controlled very precisely and quickly. They require little energy, are almost wear-resistant and do not need much space. Three trimorphic piezo-ceramic bending transducers, which serve both as an actuator and a design element, are therefore fitted into each thigh. By deflecting the top bending transducer, the ant lifts its leg. With the pair underneath, each leg can be exactly deflected forwards and backwards. To increase the relatively low lift, the team developed a flexible hinge joint, which extends the ant’s step size significantly.

Highly complex control algorithms

With two rechargeable batteries on board, the ants can work for 40 minutes before they have to link up with a charging station via their feelers. All actions are based on a distributed set of rules, which have been worked out in advance using mathematical modelling and simulations and are stored on every ant. The control strategy provides for a multi-agent system in which the participants are not hierarchically ordered. Instead, all the BionicANTs contribute to the process of finding a solution together by means of distributed intelligence. The information exchange between the ants required for this takes place via the radio module located in the torso.

Camera system works with floor sensor

The ants use the 3D stereo camera in their head to identify the gripping object as well as for self-localisation purposes. With its help, each ant is able to contextualise itself in its environment using landmarks.

The opto-electrical sensor in the abdomen uses the floor structure to tell how the ant is moving in relation to the ground. With both systems combined, each ant knows its position – even if its sight is temporarily impaired.

Production of the future

This cooperative behaviour provides interesting approaches for the factory of tomorrow. Future production systems will be founded on intelligent components, which adjust themselves flexibly to different production scenarios and thus take on tasks from a higher control level.

For more information contact Kershia Beharie, Festo, 086 003 3786, kershia.beharie@festo.com, www.festo.co.za


Credit(s)
Supplied By: Festo
Tel: 08600 FESTO (33786)
Fax: 08794 FESTO (33786)
Email: sales.za@festo.com
www: www.festo.co.za
Share via email     Print this page  

Further reading:

  • Supramotion in action
    4th Quarter 2017, Festo, This Week's Editor's Pick, Other technologies
    At the Hannover Messe 2017 trade fair, Festo showcased three exciting new concepts for the application of superconductor technology to industrial automation.
  • Rotating and turning
    4th Quarter 2017, Lapp Group , This Week's Editor's Pick, Robotics & Mechatronics
    The most important difference between robot cables and conventional moving cables is that the former have to withstand both bending and torsion over their entire service life, and in development they are designed fundamentally differently to a power chain cable, for example.
  • Versatile connection technology
    4th Quarter 2017, Festo, Pneumatic systems & components
    Thanks to its stable material properties, the PTFEN polytetrafluoroethylene tubing from Festo ensures greater process reliability under extreme ambient and operating conditions in the chemical, pharmaceutical, ...
  • Robots with high dynamic performance
    4th Quarter 2017, JTR Technologies, Robotics & Mechatronics
    JTR Technologies is the agent for Staubli Robotics in South Africa. Staubli is a pioneer and global leader in closed structure robots. Its high performance robots are renowned for their dynamic stability ...
  • Safety for your plants
    4th Quarter 2017, Festo, Pneumatic systems & components
    The safety and reliability of technical processes are of vital importance for companies in the process industries. Bulk materials and powders in sectors such as the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries ...
  • A revolution in automation
    3rd Quarter 2017, Festo, This Week's Editor's Pick, Pneumatic systems & components
    All this is made possible by the latest developments in piezo technology and associated software. Just as the smartphone turned the mobile communication market on its head a decade ago, so too Festo’s ...
  • Pneumatic or electric?
    3rd Quarter 2017, Festo, Pneumatic systems & components
    Most linear motions in the field of automation and handling technology are carried out using pneumatic or electric drives. This means that engineers frequently face the challenge of having to find the ...
  • NASA relies on maxon technology
    3rd Quarter 2017, DNH Tradeserve, This Week's Editor's Pick, Electrical switching & drive systems & components, Robotics & Mechatronics
    Swiss drive specialist, maxon motor will supply several drives specifically developed for the task to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is building the Mars 2020 rover for NASA. The maxon drives are ...
  • Innovation goes hand in hand
    3rd Quarter 2017, Horne Technologies, This Week's Editor's Pick, Robotics & Mechatronics
    To make daily life easier, the British company Steeper has developed the bebionic myoelectric hand prosthesis. This is controlled by myoelectric signals generated from muscle contractions in the arm, ...
  • Engineers of productivity
    3rd Quarter 2017, Festo, News & events
    Festo recently staged an exclusive automation exhibition at UrbanTREE, showcasing the company’s latest automation solutions and innovations. Guests were entertained by top South African comedian, Deep ...
  • Festo Didactic training: September to November 2017
    3rd Quarter 2017, Festo, News & events
    The following courses are available from Festo Didactic:    Pneumatics (1) Basic PN111: Johannesburg: September 6-8, October 4-6 Pretoria: September 27-29 Cape Town: November 8-10 Durban: September ...
  • Omron offers complete single-source automation solutions
    3rd Quarter 2017, Omron Electronics, Robotics & Mechatronics
    The recent acquisition of Adept has expanded the capability to deliver robot-based packagingsolutions to the food and beverage industry.

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    classic | mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.