robo ants

Tiny, simple robots known as “Tribots” these work as an adaptable group and not as a versatile individual. Robo ants are built on the model of ant. Moreover, they can work together like them to pass different obstacles with teamwork. These small robots have special place other than the robots like Spot or Atlas.


These tiny, light and simple, tribots are developed by EPFL and Osaka University. They move more like inchworms than ants and are also able to fling themselves up and forward if needed. Ants individually have only so much strength and intelligence, but together they can use complex strategies to complete sophisticated tasks and evade larger predators. Similarly, the bots themselves and the system are actually inspired by trap-jaw ants. They alternate between crawling and jumping, and work, like most of the other ants, in fluid roles like explorer, worker and leader. These tiny robots that display minimal physical intelligence on an individual level but that are able to communicate and act collectively.

Thus, we can expect that these robo ants, as a team can get from one end of a piece of complex land to another. Each robot is assigned with a specific role depending on the situation, although they have the same anatomy. An explorer after sensing obstacles could move ahead, and then relaying their locations and dimensions to the rest of the team. Worker units are then assigned by the leader to head over and to try to push the obstacles out of their way. An explorer then try hopping over it, if it doesn’t work. Each robot has multiple locomotion modes to navigate any type of surface.

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The weigh of these robo ants is only 10 grams each. Moreover, these are three-legged, T-shaped origami robots. By folding a stack of thin, multi-material sheets they can be easily assembled in only a few minutes and thus they are easily mass-produced. According to the research paper, they have some mechanical bits and grip points attached. It says that:

“it is a quasi-two-dimensional meta-material sandwich,”

For detection and communication purposes they are equipped with infrared and proximity sensors. Even more sensors can be added on them depending on the application. To take measurements and look for radiation or heat hot spots, and other things you can drop dozens or hundreds of them on a target area and after an hour or two they could characterize it. However, if a robot fails, it can be replaced as easily as a part from the group.

These tiny robots can have various future applications in different areas. Without relying on GPS or visual feedback, they could locate a target quickly over a large surface, all the credit goes to their multi-locomotive and multi-agent communication capabilities.