Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Ant-Inspired Engineering

PostedMay 26, 2013

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Anchor Lead: Future search and rescue missions amid rubble in the aftermath of disasters like a tornado might benefit from a common summertime picnic spoiler – ants.

Randy Atkins: Ants are masters at tunneling and moving in confined spaces. Daniel Goldman, of Georgia Tech, is observing them with tools like high speed video and C-T scanners to understand how.

Daniel Goldman: They can use their bodies and limbs in very different ways depending on how much they’re squeezed by the size of the tunnel.

Randy Atkins: And Goldman says ants have also learned to make perfectly sized tunnels – big enough for fast passage but narrow enough to brace themselves if they slip.

Daniel Goldman: We think that by implementing these principles in human-made engineered devices, we can give robots some of the capabilities of these amazing organisms.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.