The Ant Farm

The Ant Farm is a 10' x 13' environment for the robotic Ants. The frame is made out of extruded aluminum beams from 80/20 Inc. that bolt together just like an erector set, except it's life-size! Cool Stuff!

Here is the Ant Farm as of December 12, 1995. It's basically a 10' x 13' table 3 feet off of the ground. The little black dots on the left are six robots. The area the robots are sitting on is temporary so I could get some work done while I finished building the real surface. The real top will be made of 9 sheets of aluminum arranged in a grid, like a big Tic-Tac-Toe board. That way, the layout will be reconfigurable.

January 19, 1996. The superstructure is finished. In the lower left corner of the picture, you can see the several hundred pounds of plywood they will comprise the top surface of the habitat. The keen observer will also notice a roll of the stuff that binds the universe together -- duct tape!

January 25, 1996. The surface is made of of 3/4" birch plywood. Real nice stuff! It was all cut to within 1/32" of the exact dimensions. Too bad it was 1/32" too big! Yours truly had to take each and every piece off and sand down the edges. Fun, fun, fun.

February 4, 1996. It's done! The surface is covered with adhesive-backed .003" thick aluminum foil. Aside from looking cool, it lets the robot sense their food. They need conductive food on a conductive surface in order to work. Future versions of the robot might use magnetic food, which would eliminate the need for a special surface.

Antville at dusk.

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