Ant-inspired strolling robotic navigates with out GPS by utilizing polarized gentle

Antbot, the primary strolling robotic that strikes with out GPS. Julien Dupeyroux, ISM (CNRS/AMU)

What do you get for those who cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robotic from the French Nationwide Heart for Scientific Analysis (CNRS) which makes use of ant-like navigation to maneuver round with out assistance from GPS.

Whereas navigation may appear to be a easy process, however in apply, like numerous areas of robotics, it’s a lot tougher to realize than you’ll suppose. Most approaches to navigating robots use GPS which is a really nicely established expertise. Nonetheless, it’s vulnerable to drift, making it inaccurate on small scales and isn’t out there in all areas, for instance in closely wooded terrain the place timber block indicators from satellites. The CNRS researchers determined to take inspiration from nature to resolve this downside and regarded on the manner ants navigate their environments.

Cataglyphis desert ants face a selected problem: they should cowl giant distances to search out meals, they usually can not use pheromones for navigation as a result of the desert temperatures are too excessive. And but they can cowl a whole lot of meters in baking direct daylight to search out meals after which return in a straight line with out getting misplaced. They obtain this by measuring their heading utilizing polarized gentle from the sky as a form of “celestial compass,” and gathering data on the pace of their motion based mostly on steps taken and their motion relative to the solar. With data on heading and distance, they’ll navigate flawlessly.

Equally, Antbot makes use of an optical compass that detects polarized gentle to find out its heading and an optical motion sensor to measure its distance. This permits the bot to discover complicated environments, just like the ants, and to all the time be capable of return dwelling safely to its base. Having lined 14 meters (46 ft), the bot made its manner dwelling with 1 cm precision (zero.four inches).

The bot has six legs to permit it to maneuver over rugged terrain, making it suited to go to areas the place wheeled robots would battle. The researchers hope that it may ultimately be used for assessing catastrophe areas and even exploring extraterrestrial soils.

The examine is revealed within the journal Science Robotics.

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