Will the factories of the world one day be crawling with autonomous A.I. robot ants instead of human workers?
Modern factories increasingly replace human workers with fully automated technology. This has been a trend ever since factories even started. It’s no wonder then, that versatile robots could completely replace human workers, and somewhat soon! This may scare some, but what may scare others even more could be with the robots that replace them. Imagine a factory swarming with artificially intelligent, robot ants. These synthetic insects are smart enough to tear into common goals which one alone would not stand a chance.
While they may look like a cool new toy, BionicANTs are serious high-tech business which can adapt to fluctuating production demands, while they communicate to each other using wireless technology. They are about the size of an adult human’s hand at 5 inches long, 6 inches wide and 1 and a half inches tall. A nightmarish size, indeed!
Overtly inspired by nature, each ant has a bulbous plastic abdomen, six jointed legs, two antennae and serrated pincers. The grin? Just trying to be bad-ass, I’m sure. They have lightweight polyamide bodies and circuitry are 3D printed and powered by lithium batteries. The ANT in BionicANT stands for Autonomous Networking Technologies which is what drives them to be successful little workers.
These electronic critters were invented by Festo, a global industrial control and automation engineering firm based in Germany. Their aim in creating the robot ants was to “demonstrate how autonomous individual components can solve a complex task together, working as an overall networked system.” In other words, they wanted to show how a group of ants with A.I. can work together to achieve a goal.
Similar to ants found in nature, BionicANTs have been engineered to cooperate in work for the greater good of their colony. Stereoscopic cameras, radio modules and opto-electrical floor sensors help the ant to figure out their location and objects. They are able to pick up, drag and drop small objects with their jagged pincers. They charge their batteries by leaning the steel antennae against charging stations.
They are currently not for sale, but they are intriguing many people. Perhaps the developers will continue to develop these creatures into an array of various robot types with the same hive mind to take on tasks for their human overlords. That is, until they rebel and create truly gigantic monster robot ants to exterminate us all! (OK, I’ve been watching too much anime.)