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Biomimicry

Festo's BionicKangaroo is able to store energy from the landing phase of a jump and reuse ...

Festo’s BionicKangaroo is yet another impressive addition to the company’s already mind-blowing bionic zoo that includes, among other things, bionic seagulls, dragonflies, flying penguins, elephant trunks and a whole selection of robotic marine critters. Just like its animal cousin, the robo-marsupial developed by Fasto’s Bionic Learning Network is able to store energy from the landing phase of a jump and reuse it efficiently on subsequent jumps. The technology developed for the BionicKangaroo may hold the key to more energy-efficient machines based on both pneumatic and electric drive technologies.  Read More

The business end of Medrobotics Corp's Flex System

When we last heard about the modular snake robot designed by Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor Howie Choset, it had been used to explore an abandoned nuclear power plant. Now, however, a new line of robots based on it are set to explore something a little more confined – the human body.  Read More

DARPA's new Biological Technologies Office division aims to 'merge biology, engineering, a...

From robotics to optics and forgery prevention to solar cells, biomimicry has proven fertile ground for researchers. Recognizing nature's potential in the development of new technologies, DARPA has announced the establishment of the Biological Technologies Office (BTO), a new division that aims to "merge biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security."  Read More

An MIT rendering of a bacterial cell, trailing fibers containing gold nanoparticles and qu...

Scientists at MIT are developing hybrid materials that are a cross between living bacterial cells and non-living components such as gold nanoparticles or quantum dots. The resulting "living materials" are able to respond to their environment like regular living cells, while also doing things like conducting electricity or emitting light.  Read More

The synthetic mother-of-pearl ceramic (left) and its natural counterpart

Although you may know it simply as the shiny iridescent stuff on the inside of mollusk shells, mother-of-pearl (or nacre) is a remarkable material. It allows those shells, which otherwise consist almost entirely of brittle calcium carbonate, to stand up to the abuses of life in the sea. Now, a team led by the Laboratoire de Synthèse et Fonctionnalisation des Céramiques (CNRS) in Paris, has copied the structure of nacre to create a ceramic material that's almost 10 times stronger than conventional ceramics.  Read More

MIT's Daniela Rus and Andrew Marchese with their sharp-turning robotic fish

Anyone who has ever tried to grab a minnow out of the water knows that it's almost impossible. Not only can they swim forward very quickly, but they can also make near-instantaneous right-angle turns, unpredictably shooting off to one side or the other in mere milliseconds. Now, scientists at MIT have replicated that capability in a soft-bodied robotic fish.  Read More

Flying snakes are actually very gifted gliders, not unlike flying squirrels (Photo: Jake S...

So first of all ... yes, flying snakes do exist. Disappointingly, though, they don't have scaly dragon-like wings. Instead, they're able to flatten out their bodies after launching themselves from tree branches, proceeding to glide through the air for up to 100 feet (30.5 m). Recently, scientists figured out why that technique works as well as it does. Their findings could have some major applications for us humans.  Read More

Illustrations of a human heart doing the left ventricular twist (left), and the Harvard mo...

When you think of a beating heart, you probably just picture it flexing in and out, sort of like a rubber ball being squeezed by an invisible hand. In fact, though, its motion is more similar to that of a dish rag being wrung out, with the top of the organ twisting in a clockwise direction while the bottom contracts counterclockwise. It's known as the left ventricular twist, and scientists have now replicated it using artificial muscles. The research could lead to better-functioning cardiac implants, among other things.  Read More

It's an exciting time to be alive if you are highly educated and capable of making a diffe...

Of all the technologies to have emerged from the digital renaissance, additive manufacturing (3D printing) has the potential to be the most disruptive. A perfect example of the way 3DP will change the way we make things will be displayed at the Geneva Motor Show this week when EDAG, the world’s largest independent engineering partner to the mobility industry, displays an example of a printed automobile. The Genesis is more a conceptual sculpture than an automobile, but it will give you a taste of what the world's leading manufacturers might be producing a decade or two from now.  Read More

A microscope image of the gecko foot-inspired tape with some of the larger dirt-simulating...

Geckos' feet are right up there with adhesive tape, when it comes to being able to stick to things. Unlike tape, however, those feet retain their adhesive qualities even after many, many uses. Now, thanks to research being conducted at Carnegie Mellon University and Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, we may one day be using self-cleaning reusable gecko-inspired tape.  Read More

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