Ant Behavior May Help Architects and Robot Scientists
In Brazil where heavy rains can cause flooding twice a day, fired ants survive by hooking their mouths and limbs together,en masse, to create living, breathing rafts. Not only can these rafts stay afloat for as long as necessary, they are also speedily assembled, incredibly flexible, and in a state of constant rearrangement that makes them able to adjust to motion of flood waters, drops of rain and sudden intrusion of sticks or other objects. David Hu and colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology are studying the physical characteristics of these ant rafts to inform materials scientists interested in creating similar structures for robotics and potentially for construction materials that would self-repair when stressed or damaged. Read the Scientific American Story by Laura Poppick.