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Science: 

3d printed giant ants promote teamwork

Couldn't they have 3d printed something nice? Like a ladybug, or a wombat?

Couldn’t they have 3d printed something nice? Like a ladybug, or a wombat?

We’ve argued before that the robots are taking over, and we’re sure it’s only a matter of time before a robot comes after our job of reporting on irreverent tech news, despite the obvious conflict of interest. But for all our optimism that we’ll one day live the life of freedom while a robot toils on our behalf, we can’t help feeling we’d be a bit aggrieved if it was a 3D printed ant that aced the interview.

True, not just any ant. These ants are – terrifyingly – about the size of your hand. They’re an experiment in producing the workforce for a factory of the future, and each ant is packed with grippers, a stereo camera, floor sensors and wireless communication within their plastic printed shell.

The wireless communication allows them to talk with their fellow uncanny valley ant brethren. Just like the real insects on which they’re based, they’re at their best when they work together to a common goal. It would all be quite inspiring really, if they weren’t scary looking. And planning to make humans redundant.

You can see how they operate together in the video below, courtesy of New Scientist.

Impressive. Our only hope is that this technology doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Surely a campy super villain would be all over harnessing the power of robotic ants to enslave the planet?

If you want to see them in person, you’ll need to head to the Hannover Messe trade fair next month, where they’re being presented.

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