Lockheed Martin Robotics Seminar
Ants as inspiration for modular and soft robotics
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biology
Adjunct Associate Professor of Physics
The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
The wetlands of Brazil can be a dangerous place, especially if you are an ant. To keep their colonies together during flash floods, ants link their bodies together to build waterproof rafts. But they do so in a way that would make modular robots jealous. The cluster of ants can drip and flow like a fluid, or spring back like an elastic material. And their rafts of 10,000 ants are complete in under two minutes. We use time-lapse photography, CT-scanning and rheological force measurement to determine how ants perform these feats.
Dr. David Hu is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biology and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Georgia Institute of Technology. His degrees are in mechanical engineering and mathematics at M.I.T. and his postdoctoral work was at NYU.
He is a mechanical engineer who studies the movement of animals. Hu’s research lies squarely at the interface of mechanical engineering and biology. His doctoral thesis focused how insects walk on water. In the years intervening, he has learned how snakes slither, how mosquitoes fly in rain, and how ants build rafts to survive floods. Hu is also passionate about using photography to increase the visibility of science to the mainstream public.
He has published in Nature, PNAS, Physics Today and American Scientist, and his work been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, National Geographic, Popular Mechanics, Audobon, Smithsonian, Scholastic, and others. He has been invited guest on Good Morning America, Discovery Channel, National Public Radio, and in the film Fire Ants 3D: The Invincible Army, available on NetFlix. These videos and more may be found at his website (link is external).
He lives in Atlanta with his wife Jia and children, Harry and Heidi.