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This is how intelligent communication between ants works

This is how intelligent communication between ants works

Ants communicate information to each other in a smart way. Until now, it was not known exactly how this happens. Ant explained the mechanism of things.

Scientists assembled a small robot that gave them insight into how ants learn from each other. The robot is able to mimic ant behavior so well that it can teach another ant and reproduce this information.

For example, ants tell each other that they have found a better nest by showing the other the way. Then the “apprentice ant” finds its way back to the old nest and shares the new information with the next congener.

Search results that Posted in Journal of Experimental BiologyNow, it turns out, the key elements of this learning process in ants are known, thanks to a robotic ant, which can take the place of a real ant traveling the road.

Which litter is the best?
The basis of the learning process consists in walking together towards the new nest, where one ant calmly points the way to the other. The pupil learns the way so well in this way that he can find his way to the old nest on his own and put a new ant in front of his cart to pass the message on, etc.

“Learning is very important in our lives. We spend a lot of time instructing others and learning things from others. You can also ask yourself if animals can teach each other. The first animal species that teach each other very clearly are the first animal species to teach each other very clearly,” says Professor Nigel Franks. ants Bristol School of Biological Sciences.

The researchers wanted to know what was involved in this learning process. What conditions must be met in individual learning among ants? If we succeed in making a robot that can successfully replace the teacher, then you can say that the basic elements of this learning process are largely understood.

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Polonaise for two
The team built a large arena in the lab so that there was enough space between the old and new nest. The old nest was placed rather poorly on purpose. On the other hand, the new nest is equipped with all amenities for ants. A crane over the yard allowed the robotic ants to move back and forth. In this way, the scientists were able to determine the direction – directly to the target or with an undulating roll – and the speed of the small robot.

The robot ant was equipped with the scent glands of a worker ant, which released a large dose of pheromones. These attractive scents ensured that the robot ant was well camouflaged as a real ant and that the apprentice would continue to follow it.

“We patiently waited for an ant to leave its old nest. When that was the case, we had the robotic ant walk right in front of this ant, releasing pheromones. One time we let the robotic ant walk straight to the new nest, and the other on a nice detour. We made sure that the robot It didn’t move so fast, that a real ant could remember the road very well,” says Professor Franks.

“When the real ant arrived at the new nest, we gave it time to receive the new nest. Then it could start its way back home on its own time. We used the scaffold to automatically track and store the way back to the old nest.”

Robot ants are a good teacher
The team concluded that the robot ant had successfully made its way to the student’s new nest. It does not matter whether the path leads directly to the new nest or a bend. “A straight road is faster, but a winding road gives the ant more time to memorize landmarks along the way. It can find its way back on the longer road as efficiently as on the short one,” Franks says.

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“This way we can compare the performance of the ants trained by the robot with the ants we placed directly in the new nest, without the lessons of the robotic ant. Ants that learned their way by following the robotic ants found their way home faster and more efficiently.”