Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

How do ants get around? Ultra-sensitive machines measure their every step...
by Staff Writers
Sheffield, UK (SPX) Jul 05, 2014

File image.

How do ants manage to move so nimbly whilst coordinating three pairs of legs and a behind that weighs up to 60% of their body mass? German scientists have recently developed a device that may reveal the answer.

Measuring the forces generated by single limbs is vital to understanding the energetics of animal locomotion. However, with very small animals such as insects, this becomes problematic. Dr Reinhardt (Friedrich-Schiller University) used an elastic polycarbonate material to produce a miniature force plate. Springs arranged at right angles to each other enabled forces to be measured across the plate in the micro-Newton range.

The ants (Formica polyctena) walk using an "alternating tripod" system: the front and back legs of one side and the middle leg of the other side move together during one step. It was unknown, however, if a different gait is used for faster running speeds.

Ants were made to travel down a runway built on top of the force plate, equipped with a high-speed camera to record a motion sequence. The researchers found that the basic alternating tripod gait did not alter at higher speeds, with the ants instead increasing their stride length and number of steps.

The ants appear to adopt a strategy known as "grounded running"; that is, they reach higher speeds without using an "aerial phase" when all joints lose contact with the ground. This improves stability by keeping the centre of mass low, reducing the risk of falling and helping the ants to turn quickly and travel over rough terrain.

The device was also used to investigate ants travelling up a vertical surface. "During level locomotion, the typical vertical force of an ant leg is around 70 uN" Dr Reinhardt described.

"The situation is different in vertical climbing. The front legs generate forces as large as the body weight - around 20 mg. We expect that the animals can still generate much larger forces, for instance when transporting food or during fights".

The force plate was built using stereolithography technology. This uses a special photocurable polymer which solidifies when exposed to ultra-violet light. A vat is filled with the liquid polymer and a UV laser scanned across it to build up the structure layer by layer. Because the laser can be set to trace any design, this technology could be used in a wealth of applications.

"Our measuring device can be applied far beyond the field of insect biomechanics" Dr Reinhardt stated. "For example, the force plate could be invaluable to the design and testing of micro-robots".


Related Links
Society for Experimental Biology
All about the robots on Earth and beyond!

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

IBM's Watson app whips up Big Data in the kitchen
Washington (AFP) June 30, 2014
Putting a chef's hat on its Watson supercomputer, IBM and the magazine Bon Appetit unveiled a new initiative Monday that seeks to use Big Data for gastronomy. A new app unveiled in test version called "Chef Watson with Bon Appetit" aims at helping cooks "draw on Watson's advanced cognitive capabilities to create entirely new recipes and gastronomic combinations that have previously never bee ... read more

NASA LRO's Moon As Art Collection Is Revealed

Solar photons drive water off the moon

55-year old dark side of the moon mystery solved

New evidence supporting moon formation via collision of 2 planets

Curiosity travels through ancient glaciers on Mars

New Type of Dust in Martian Atmosphere Discovered

NASA plans to colonize Mars

NASA's 'flying saucer' tests new Mars-landing technology

Italian businessman counter bids for Club Med

Astronaut health check with single drop of blood

Orion's parachutes help it land safely after 10-second free fall

Orion Parachute Test Hits No Snags

Chinese scientists prepare for lunar base life support system

China plans to land rover on Mars by 2020

Chinese lunar rover alive but weak

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover 'alive but struggling'

Closing the recycling circle

Space station astronauts wager friendly bet on USA vs. Germany match

Last European space truck set for July 24 launch

A Laser Message from Space

SpaceX to launch six satellites all at once

Arianespace A World Leader In The Satellite Launch Market

Airbus Group and Safran To Join Forces in Launcher Activities

European satellite chief says industry faces challenges

Astronomers discover most Earth-like of all exoplanets

Mega-Earth in Draco Smashes Notions of Planetary Formation

Kepler space telescope ready to start new hunt for exoplanets

Astronomers Confounded By Massive Rocky World

Ghost writing the whip

NOAA GOES-R Satellite Black Wing Ready for Flight

Whale of a target: harpooning space debris

Raytheon touts blimp-borne radar system

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.