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Biomimetic

Robot drones that can both fly and move about on land would vastly improve their usefulness by increasing the areas in which they could operate. Adding wheels of sufficient size to handle most terrains, however, would adversely increase both the weight and size of such a drone. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), building on their earlier developments, have created a drone that uses wings incorporating movable tips, allowing it to both walk and fly. Read More

Previously only open to students, this year's challenge from the Biomimicry Institute is open to professionals for the first time. This year, entrants are tasked with tasked with developing a biomimetic design that solves an important food system challenge. Read More

The Landesgartenschau Exhibition Hall in Stuttgart, Germany, is claimed to be the first building to have its core structure made entirely from interlocking timber sections created by robots. Made up of over 240 individual segments of beech plywood created using a robotic fabrication method, the 17 meter (55 ft) tall, 245 square meter (2,637 sq ft) structure required just 12 cubic meters (424 cubic feet) of timber to construct. Read More
Among the mechanical components not found in nature is the spur gear. That is, until now. Zoologists of the University of Cambridge have discovered that the juvenile form of the leaf-hopper Issus coleoptratus has a set of gear-like linkages between the two jumping legs to synchronize the legs during a jump. Read More
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a small "aircraft" that resembles a flying fish which can jump and glide over a greater distance than an equivalent jumping robot. Using a carbon fiber spring to take off, the jumpglider has a pivoting wing that stays out of the way during ascent, but which locks into place to glide farther on the way down. Read More
US researches have developed a robot that gets about with a pair of flipper-like arms. By recording FlipperBot's adventures using a high-speed camera, the researchers are gaining understanding about the mechanics of traversing "complex surfaces" such as sand. Read More
Students at the University of Warwick have announced their intention to build a human-powered submarine to compete at that highlight of the human-powered submarine events calendar, the European International Submarine Races in 2014. The team of engineering students hopes that their vessel, already named HPS Shakespeare, will beat the current speed record for a single-seat human-powered sub. Read More
Most human-like robots don't even attempt biological accuracy, because replicating every muscle in the body isn't necessary for a functional humanoid. Even biomimetic robots based on animals don't attempt to replicate every anatomical detail of the animals they imitate, because that would needlessly complicate things. That said, there is much to be learned from how muscle groups move and interact with the skeleton, which is why a team at Tokyo University's JSK Lab has developed what could be considered the world's most anatomically correct robot to date. Read More
In early October we took a look at the naro - tartaruga, a biomimetic robot based on sea turtles being built by researchers at ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). It's a research platform that tests the concept of fin propulsion, and now we have a video of its first swim, which is surprisingly life-like. Read More
A five foot long (1.5 meter) robo-fish prototype that monitors oxygen levels and salinity is currently being tested in waters north of Spain as part of the EU-funded Shoal Consortium project. If the project proves successful, teams of autonomous robot fish could be patrolling ports, harbors, and estuaries for telltale signs of pollutants in the next few years. Read More