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Biomimicry

New technology based on the eye of a moth improves the quality of X-ray images without com...

To increase stealth and evade predators, the moth has evolved a remarkable eye that, rather than reflecting light, absorbs it almost completely. Engineers have mimicked its nanostructure in the past to design better solar panel coatings and antireflective surfaces, and are now using the same principle to design a thin film that will absorb radiation from X-ray machines more effectively, exposing patients to a significantly lower risk while obtaining higher quality imaging.  Read More

The EPFL UAV rights itself after a fall

Researchers from the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems at Switzerland’s EPFL federal research institute were inspired by the resilience of flying insects, and set out to replicate it in a miniature unmanned aerial vehicle. They succeeded, creating a UAV that can crash into things, fall down, then right itself and get back in the air.  Read More

The study of this marine crustacean may lead to lighter and more resistant materials that ...

The mantis shrimp is a fascinating creature that has the ability to punch its prey into submission with a club that accelerates underwater at around 10,400 g. By studying the secrets behind this formidable weapon, a Californian researcher hopes to develop an innovative, hi-tech material that is one third the weight and thickness of existing body armor.  Read More

The DASH robot, a cockroach and a gecko are all capable of running to the edge of a ramp, ...

Anyone who has tried to kill a cockroach knows just how difficult they can be to be to capture. Not only can they squeeze through very narrow gaps, but they can also instantly accelerate to a running speed of approximately 50 body lengths per second. Recently, biologists at the University of California, Berkeley realized that the insects have another escape skill at their disposal. When they get to the edge of a surface such as a table, they can hook it with their rear claws and swing around 180 degrees to land upside down on its underside – a maneuver also performed by geckos. A team of UC Berkeley researchers subsequently did what any of us would do upon gaining that knowledge, and set out to get a robot to perform the action.  Read More

A drop of liquid sits on the textured silicon surface that has arced rungs to guide the dr...

Lately we’re hearing more and more about tiny medical and environmental diagnostic devices, that can perform a variety of tests using very small fluid samples. Working with such small samples does present a challenge, however – how do you thoroughly mix tiny amounts of different fluids, or wrangle individual drops for analysis? According to a team of scientists from the University of Washington, the answer lies in the lotus leaf.  Read More

The Urbana-Champaign MAV features articulated wings with movable trailing edge flaps

Although winged micro air vehicles (MAVs) are pretty impressive in free flight, one of the skills that has proven difficult for them to master is the bird-like perched landing. Aerospace engineers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, however, have now achieved it – they’ve developed an MAV that is capable of landing on an outstretched human hand.  Read More

Scientists have created squid-inspired artificial muscles and cells, that could lead to ca...

If you’ve ever watched a cephalopod such as a squid changing color, then you’ll know that it’s a pretty amazing process – they can instantly change the appearance of their skin from dark to light and back again, or even create pulsating bands of color that travel across it. They are able to do this thanks to muscles that manipulate the pigmentation of their skin. Now, scientists from the University of Bristol have succeeded in creating artificial muscles and cells, that might someday allow for the same sort of color changes in smart clothing that can camouflage itself against different backgrounds.  Read More

One of the robosquirrels used in the rattlesnake study (Photo: Andy Fell, UC Davis)

Rattlesnakes, beware! The next time you spot a succulent-looking squirrel, it might actually be a cold-hearted robot. More specifically, it might be a “robosquirrel,” created by UC Davis professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Sanjay Joshi. He built the robot squirrels as part of a study on rattlesnake behavior – a study which yielded some interesting results.  Read More

U.K. and U.S. researchers are developing a tiny disease detecting robot based on the sea l...

Could tiny robots one day swim through our bodies to detect disease? That's the vision of scientists in the U.K. and U.S. who have turned to the sea lamprey for inspiration in an effort to design a micro-robot capable of doing just that. While not the prettiest of sea creatures, the jawless, blood-sucking lamprey finds itself the subject of this biomimicry project not only because of its ability to swim, but because of its primitive nervous system, which researchers believe can be reproduced as part of a micro, or even nano-scale robot.  Read More

Tiny fibers in the new aerogel serve the same purpose as tiny hairs on the water strider's...

Aerogels are among the lightest solid materials in existence, and are created by replacing the liquid component of a gel with a gas – this results in their extremely low density, and has earned them the nickname of “frozen smoke.” Now, scientists have created a new type of aerogel that is inspired by the feet of the water strider. The material is reportedly so buoyant, that a boat made from one pound (454 grams) of it could carry about 1,000 pounds (454 kg) of cargo.  Read More

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