Festo have unveiled their ant-shaped robots, which are able to solve complex tasks together by "working as an overall networked system".
They shared: "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. The artificial ants thus demonstrate how autonomous individual components can solve a complex task together working as an overall networked system.
"In an abstract manner, 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."
The unique method of production allows the legs to bend in three places and can be bent forwards and backwards.
They added: "Yet 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 in the 3D MID process. They thereby take on design and electrical functions at the same time.
"In the actuator technology used in the legs, Festo utilises the benefits of piezo technology. Piezo elements 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."