This web page's content and links are no longer actively maintained. It is available for reference purposes only. NASA Official: Cynthia Cheung

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ANTS: Autonomous NanoTechnology Swarm

Three Columns



Full implementation of the ANTS concept requires technological developments in (1) intelligent systems, (2) autonomous movement for propulsion and assembly, (3) gossamer structures.

(1) Intelligent Systems areas requiring development include advanced autonomous systems, multi-agent systems, as well as high performance computing. We are currently involved in the ST-8 COTS high performance computing project, and using developments in that area to perform multi-agent system simulations for ANTS on a beowulf cluster.

(2) Autonomous propulsion is based on nodes, whether at the macro or nano scale, with the capability for addressability and reconfigurability. At Goddard, we are constructing a tetrahedral walker with such electromechanical nodes to demonstrate this concept.

(3) Gossamer structures ultimately require the use of Carbon nanotubule technology to really reduce mass and volume. Meanwhile we are working with colleagues at Morgan State University (through the FAR program) to develop MEMS technology for deployable structural elements, and with colleagues at Goddard to determine the requirements, capabilities, and design of Carbon Nanotubules for NEMS based nodes.

TechnologyCurrent Development
Intelligent Systems
-High Performance ComputingST-8 COTS High Performance Computing JPL
-Synthetic Neural Systems
-Multi-agent SystemsMulti-Agent System Simulations: Space Rescue
-Advanced Autonomous Systems
Autonomous PropulsionTetrahedral Walker W. Blanco Code 544
Gossamer Structures Morgan State U FAR MEMS Technology for Deployable Structural ElementsNanotubule Technology (J Benavides Code 562)
NEMS Technology for Nano-Struts, Fibers, Tethers, Fabric
Autonomous In-Space Manufacturing


ANTS Development Current Enabling Technology Timeline
Tetrahedral Walker
Demonstration and Simulation of a prototype of the Walking Tetrahedron through the three movies shown here.
Nanotubule Technology
Carbon Nanotubule Structure Models


Thumbnail of TetWalker
TetWalker Motion
Thumbnail of Deploying Structure
Changing Sail Structure
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Autonomous NanoTechnology Swarm


The TET walker prototype was tested at the McMurdo station, located in Antarctica. Facing a cold climate and rocky terrain, the TET walker proved that it could climb steep hills.

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