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Biomimicry

Robotics

Jumping cockroach robot leaps tall obstacles in a single bound

For such a reviled creature, the cockroach has some pretty impressive abilities. It can slide through incredibly narrow gaps, has great acceleration and can cling to overhanging surfaces like a gecko. But something you won't see them doing is launching more than a meter into the air – at least not in the natural world. But researchers have developed a new springing mechanism for small robots that enables them to jump many times their own height at just the right time, a technology they have demonstrated in their so-called JumpRoACH leaping milli-scale robot.Read More

Robotics

Harvard's RoboBee now perches on overhanging surfaces to preserve power

When the insect-sized RoboBee first took flight in 2012, its developers were unable to keep it aloft for more than a few seconds at a time. These days, the tiny drone is so adept at flying that researchers are actively bringing it down to rest. In the latest exhibition of their flying microbot, Harvard researchers have demonstrated the RoboBee's newfound ability to land on surfaces during flight, a neat trick that allows it save power and remain in action for longer periods of time.Read More

Materials

Ever-taut spider webs inspire self-spooling liquid wire

Among spider silk's many remarkable properties is its ability to be stretched 40 percent beyond its original length without breaking. Staying in one piece is impressive, sure, but how does a spider's web remain taut after being warped out of shape by winds and intrusive insects? Scientists have now unraveled this little mystery and used it as the basis of a self-spooling liquid wire they say could be used to build small, stretchable structures.Read More

Energy

Cactus-inspired membrane boosts fuel cell performance

Here's something that you might not know about the humble cactus: it has tiny cracks in its skin, which open up at night when conditions tend to be more humid. This allows it to take up moisture. During the day, those cracks close up, keeping the moisture inside. Now, scientists have applied that same principle to a membrane which could make fuel cells a more viable option for powering vehicles.Read More

Robotics

Roach-inspired robots buddy up to climb stairs

If you've ever watched a war or adventure movie, you're well familiar with the "no man left behind" ethic. Now, thanks to an advance involving their VelociRoACH, researchers at University of California at Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab have figured out a way to create machines that will have a "no robot left behind" sense of duty – at least when it comes to climbing stairs.Read More

Drones

How big-eared bats could help drone design

When it comes to inventions inspired by animals, it seems like geckos get all the attention from scientists and engineers these days. But researchers at Sweden's Lund University have turned their observations to the long-eared brown bat and what they've discovered just might help improve drone design.Read More

Drones

Insect inspires floatation system for DJI Phantom

Presently, if you want to land a consumer drone on the water, you're pretty much limited to buying one of the special amphibious models. That, or you could try a DIY approach such as fastening styrofoam pool noodles to the skids. If a new Kickstarter project succeeds, however, there will soon be a commercial floatation product available for the popular DJI Phantom series of quadcopters.Read More

Robotics

Slithering serpentine robot snakes its way to seabed inspections

It looks like something you'd want to steer clear of in a video game, and most likely real life as well, but this menacing mechanical snake isn't out to hurt anybody. Developed to cut the costs of maintaining underwater equipment, the Eelume robot is designed to be unleashed permanently on seabeds where it will glide through tight spaces tending to gear that is difficult and expensive to reach for us humans.Read More

Medical

Sweat sensor uses battery-free, plant-like pump

A sensor under development by researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands takes inspiration from how plants draw water out of the earth. Designed to take medically useful readings from patient sweat, the sensor doesn't require any form of external power.Read More

3D Printing

Cocooning caterpillars inspire new 3D printer design

As with its SmartBird, BionicKangaroo and robotic ants, Festo's Bionic Learning Network has once again looked to the natural world for inspiration during the development of a new 3D printing solution. Rather than gradually forming an object layer by layer like a desktop extruder, the 3D Cocooner works more like a sophisticated robotic version of a CreoPop 3D printing pen, hardening the printed material with UV light as the structure is formed. Objects are created in a similar fashion to a spider spinning its web or a caterpillar making its cocoon, resulting in complex, free-standing, three-dimensional lattice structures.Read More

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