Bionic ants and robot butterflies may sound surreal, but they are part of the vision one German firm has for the factories of the future.
The tiny, 5.4-inch long ants are intended to carry items and work autonomously with other factory ants, mimicking the cooperative behaviour of the insects in their natural environment, said Heinrich Frontzek, the vice-president for corporate communication and future concepts at German automation firm Festo.
"We have been looking at how the factory of the future might be run, and we have focused on bionics, with nature as our inspiration," Frontzek told CNBC on Monday at Germany's Hannover Messe, the world's biggest industrial and technology fair. A focus for the conference is the use of robotics in manufacturing.
This article originally appeared in CNBC.