To find out how ants teach a few other things, the researchers created an ant tutor in robotic form. Robot Ant’s mission: Teach the colony new ways.
When an ant in a colony finds a better nest, that ant picks up one of its nest mates, then explains the way to the new nest. This basically means that he is leading the way and following the other ant – keeping a close eye on the environment.
Researchers at the University of Bristol wanted to see: Did we get this well enough to imitate it? They built a poor nest and a much better nest far from each other and put the ant colony in a lower quality nest. When an ant leaves the nest, it will have a robotic ant with working ant scent glands going to it.
Then the robotic ant walked either in a straight line or in a zigzag line to the new nest, pausing every now and then to track the next ant to look around. The robot ant was followed closely, and the real ant, after taking a good look at the new nest, ran exactly the same way back to the old nest to get the next one, whether it was a straight line or not.
In this way, the researchers hope to learn more about the learning system of ant colonies.
Read more: Robot helps reveal how ants transmit knowledge.
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