Admission is free
Refreshments at 7:45 AM
Advisor: Prof. Mark R. Cutkosky
Humans have long been inspired by the incredible abilities of ants. They can go anywhere, build vast underground networks, and carry objects more than 100 times their weight. Indeed, despite their diminutive size, ants seem to be able to affect the human world quite a lot. We may be tempted to attribute this amazing capability primarily to the muscular strength of insects, which is certainly impressive, however as Archimedes adeptly pointed out over >2000 years ago, the ground reaction forces are equally important:
"Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world'' — Archimedes.
While humans rely on gravity and friction, both of these quantities become problematic as mass reduces with volume. At small scales, insects instead exploit interaction mechanisms like adhesion that, unlike coulomb friction, scale with area and do not depend on the magnitude of a normal force. However, adhesion without a method of release is not useful; an insect or robot would become stuck and could not move. In addition, at smaller scales, legged locomotion requires higher step rates than at larger scales to maintain the same absolute velocity. Therefore, the "controllable" adhesives that ants use must engage and disengage more quickly at small scales.