Colonies of fire ants are big on team work! During floods for example they have been found to form rafts by connecting together in a thick mass so that the water doesn’t get through! In a similar way, they can also build themselves into towers, balls or bridges when they need to help their fellow team mates.💪🏽
Within these masses each ant grabs onto their neighbours using sticky padded feet but they also constantly change neighbours so that they are always moving. When forming structures like a bridge therefore, any cracks are quickly healed by new ants filling these spaces. 🐜 🐜 🐜 –
We can use maths to figure out the rules of fire ant colony behaviours so that we can copy these in some pretty useful ways! This is done by modelling the changes in the positions of ants in a colony, including how they respond to stresses as well as their speed and movements when swapping neighbours.
Knowing these things could massively help us in different areas of engineering including in developing robots that self assemble 🤖 and bridges that automatically fix cracks 🌉.