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These 3D-Printed Ants Could Be the Factory Workers of the Future

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These 3D-printed ants scuttle around much like the real thing. But loaded with sensors and wireless communication systems, they're an experiment in collaborative robots—the kind of co-working that could fuel the factories of the future.

New Scientist reports that these robots—each the size of a human hand—are loaded with stereo cameras on their heads, sensors that feel the floor beneath and, perhaps most importantly, grippers to get some work done. They've been eveloped by German automation company Festo "to create intelligent agents that can work efficiently in factories of the future by adapting to different production requirements," explains New Scientist.

Festo isn't, of course, the only company interested in making factory robots: Amazon recently announced that it's hosting a robotics competition to find its new product pickers. Festo's ants will go on show at the industrial trade fair Hannover Messe in April. [New Scientist]