The San Diego Zoo, one of the best-regarded zoos in the world, has spent several years promoting biomimicry and its potential benefits to the economy and various research fields. Now the zoo is really ramping up its inspired-by-nature kick, launching an entire Centre for Bioinspiration, complete with the British spelling.
This three-week-old robot created at the MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter group is spinning a web. Or maybe it’s more like a cocoon. Whatever you call it, it’s doing so without any help from humans, using tensile materials like string and rope to shroud itself in a woven enclosure of its own creation.
If biomimicry is the instance of technology emulating nature, then this must be something like the opposite: researchers at Kobe University have built a computer out of crabs. Placed within a geometrically constrained environment, swarms of soldier crabs can be effectively used to emulate logic gates. In other words, researchers have replicated the fundamental workings of a computer--with crabs.
Tiny microelectromechanical machines running Magic Schoolbus-style through our bodies are the pursuit of nano labs across the globe, but a team of researchers jointly backed by the American National Science Foundation and the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council wants something more: a tiny biomimicking robot that functions like a living creature loaded with sensors derived from animal cells.
A new robotic jellyfish is powered by hydrogen, and could theoretically never run out of energy as it pulses through the sea. It’s designed to work as a search and rescue or surveillance ‘bot for the U.S. Navy.
Even when it starts out in a nosedive, a leaping lizard uses its tail to right itself, flinging the appendage to alter its own angular momentum and ensure it lands safely on its feet. Robots can do this, too, using controlled robotails that will guarantee a safe landing, a new study says.
For animals and animal-inspired machines, launching into flight takes lots of energy. Some animals have evolved to achieve air not by accelerating and lifting off, but by jumping and then using their wings or flaps of skin to glide — like sugar gliders, for instance, or grasshoppers. Now a new Swiss robot can do this, too.
Taking design cues from insects and shrimp, materials scientists at Harvard have created a material that’s as strong as aluminum alloy but only half the weight. The substance, dubbed “Shrilk” by its creators, is a material analog for insect cuticle--the material found in the exoskeletons of insects--and is the synthetic equivalent to one of nature’s strongest, lightest, and most interesting materials.