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Biomimicry

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

Drones

Bees' supreme obstacle avoidance to make for smarter drones

For more than a century, aeronautical visionaries have turned to the natural world for inspiration and those working with modern-day miniature aircraft that fit in the palm of your hand are no different. By learning how bees safely zip through thick rainforests in spite of their poor vision, scientists say they can endow flying robots with similar capabilities, promising exciting new levels of autonomy for small drones.Read More

Robotics

Flying gripper sphere picks up and drops off on its own

Ahead of this month's Hannover Messe trade show in Germany, Festo's Bionic Learning Network has today previewed a new helium-filled flyer that merges two previous projects into a single future concept. The FreeMotionHandling project combines the eMotionSphere from 2 years ago and last year's FlexShapeGripper for an autonomous gripping sphere that's able to take hold of an object, pick it up and fly it to another location for drop off.Read More

Science

Researchers turn to tick spit to shut down our immune systems

When ticks bite humans, they inject us with a substance that keeps them disguised from our immune systems. This lets them hang on to us and feed for up to 10 days without getting attacked by our bodies' defences. While this strategy certainly serves the tick — and not the humans — very well, researchers may soon be turning the tables and employing a substance in tick saliva to help people battle damaging, and potentially deadly, autoimmune diseases.Read More

Medical

Wounds may be treated using ... frog foam?

When the tiny Tungara frog lays its eggs, it also secretes a protein cocktail that it beats into a foam using its back legs. Surrounding the eggs, that foam protects them from predators, germs and environmental stress. As it turns out, a synthetic version of the substance may also one day have another use – delivering medication to serious skin wounds.Read More

Aircraft

Can an up-close study of bird flight clear shapeshifting aircraft wings for takeoff?

The ability of birds to fly more efficiently by changing the shape of their wings has inspired a number of approaches to developing low-energy aircraft. If this technique can be replicated, where individual feathers are adjusted to guide the animals through the air, it could make for vehicles that are lighter, faster and more maneuverable. With a view to making such shape-shifting wings a reality, scientists are about to get up close and personal with our avian friends, launching into the most detailed analysis of bird flight ever conducted in the name of aerospace engineering.Read More

Science

Nanopillared surface inspired by insect wings counteracts bacteria

Keeping surfaces bacteria-free is particularly important when it comes to medical devices and implants. In a move that could replace the use of biocidal coatings and antibiotic drugs in such applications, scientists have developed a germ-repelling synthetic polymer inspired by the antibacterial powers of insect wings, which they say could form the basis of resilient new types of eye implants.Read More

Outdoors

Folding helmet inspired by the pangolin and honeybees

Scientists and inventors have been taking their cues from nature for centuries, but who would have thought the somewhat exotic pangolin (aka scaly anteater) and honeybees would influence a bicycle helmet design? That unlikely pairing is what inspired Golem Innovation to create the Alpha helmet, a folding noggin protector that retracts around your neck when not in use.Read More

Science

Nosy fish inspires help for the eyes

Presbyopia is a common visual condition, in which the eye's lens stiffens to the point that it can't focus on close objects. Glasses, surgery and regular contact lenses do help, but they also cause a loss in contrast, sensitivity and night vision. That's why scientists from the University of Wisconsin, Madison are developing an alternative – self-focusing contacts that are inspired by a fish.Read More

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