That last ant fact is from the research of one of those grant-funded ant watchers who spent the last 8 years watching the tiny insects' behavior. Audrey Dussutour of the University of Sydney, observed that even on a path as slim as a tree branch, leafcutter ants optimized their going and coming traffic with no entomological pileups.
And how is this supposed to help you during gridlock Monday morning? For starters, slow down. Apparently, not being in such a hurry to get somewhere could actually speed up the flow of human traffic. Dussutour observed that when faster-moving ants not carrying a load got behind slower, load-bearing ants, they chose patience instead of passing the pokey ant, which actually allowed the overall colony to move faster.
Which leads to the part that interests us most. Researchers are using algorythms developed from the ant behaviors to develop a multi-car navigation system that could one day lead to those driverless cars we've been hearing about for 50 years. Let's just hope that whatever they come up with, our robocars come equipped with anti-magnifying glass beam protection, otherwise we're all fried.
[Source: Wired Science | Photo: Audrey Dussutour]