Maker Faire

Robotica Insectus: Fire-fighting, Robotic Blimp, and Other Robots Based on the Biological Principles of Social Insects

Type: Maker Table/Exhibit
Program Area: Robotics

Day/Time: Saturday and Sunday

Location: Fiesta Hall

Social insects are capable of complex behavior, yet have very limited cognitive capacity. In designing my robots, I use the principles of social insects. Solenopsis Invicta (red imported fire ant) is a fire fighting robot designed to put out the candle in the Trinity fire fighting contest. It uses simple wall hugging algorithms similar to those of ants to navigate a maze (a house) and find a candle with its olfactory senses (a sensor to detect chemical molecules). Apis Mellifera (honey bee) is an autonomous robotic blimp. This blimp flies around and avoids obstacles without human intervention.

This robot has IR sensors to detect objects and a Basic stamp to process data and operate thrusters. Apis Mellifera uses the same algorithms as its name sake for navigating three-dimensional space. (This robot can be found in Make magazine on page 43 Issue 3 in 2005). Camponotus Vicinus is a 6 legged walking robot designed to mimic carpenter ants. Myrmecia pilosula is a robot designed to complete the famed Homebrew Robotics Club table top challenge.

Related site:


As Seen in MAKE 03!

Presented by

Tony Pratkanis

Tony Pratkanis is a proud four year member of the world famous Homebrew Robotics Club of San Jose, CA. His interests include robots, computer programming, and social insects, especially ants. He currently works as an intern (on database management of specimens) at the California Academy of Sciences. His robot, Solenopsis Invicta, won the gold medal in the fire-fighting contest at the 2005 Robogames in San Francisco, CA. In his spare time, he enjoys writing science fiction based computer games.