The ability to grip unhatched eggs is a skill exploited by the ants Harpegnathos venator, as they care their brood in tunneled nests, which is of extreme difficulty to keep the eggs intact while gripping. In this paper we propose a mathematical modeling method to elucidate the mechanism of such a gripping behavior in the ant mandibles. The new method can be subdivided into following steps. As a preliminary, the concavity geometry and mandible kinematics are examined experimentally. Second, coordinate transformation is used to predict the real-time spatial topology of the concavity. Third, we come up with a new method to quantify the workspace required to grip and the contact area between the concavity and ant egg. Our model indicates that the biaxial rotation fashion with specialized concavities can reduce workspace by 40% and increase contact area by 53% on average compared with the uniaxial rotation pattern, which augments success rate of gentle gripping. This methodology may have applications in evaluating mechanical performance in both natural and artificial grippers.
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We appreciate Dr Huizeng Li from Department of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences who aided us in capturing the CLSM images on the concavity of the ant mandibles. We thank Miss Jiayi Wu from Sun Yat-Sen University for her contribution to drafting figures in this paper. This work was supported by the research grant of Sun Yat-Sen University for Bairen Plan (Grant No. 76200-18841223), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51905556).
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Zhang, W., He, Z., Sun, Y. et al. A Mathematical Modeling Method Elucidating the Integrated Gripping Performance of Ant Mandibles and Bio-inspired Grippers. J Bionic Eng (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42235-020-0065-9
- ant mandible
- bio-inspired grippers
- contact area