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Biomimicry

Fraunhofer's prototype propulsion system

Along with their writhing tentacles, octopi and squid sport another interesting feature – they swim not by swishing a tail, but by expelling a jet of water. This allows them to move very quickly and quietly. Scientists from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation have now copied this system, in a propulsion system that could ultimately find use in boats, recreational watercraft, or submarines.  Read More

DFKI's iStruct is an ape-like robot that was developed with funding from the German Aerosp...

If you thought the monkey-like robot AMEE seen in the Val Kilmer sci-fi flick Red Planet was a tad far-fetched, think again. The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the University of Bremen are working on an ape-like robot called the iStruct Demonstrator that it classifies as a "Space Robot." Lately the mechanical monkey has been practicing how to walk and balance in the center's mock lunar landscape.  Read More

A prototype octopus robot uses its flexible tentacles to scull through the water

The octopus is a natural escape artist. It can squeeze its soft body into impossibly tight spaces and often baffles aquarium workers with its ability to break out of tanks. These abilities could be very useful in an underwater robot, which is why the OCTOPUS Project, a consortium of European robotics labs, is attempting to reverse engineer it in all its tentacled glory. Now researchers from the Foundation for Research and Technology (FORTH), in Hellas, Greece are learning how the robot might use its tentacles to swim.  Read More

CurvACE reproduces the architecture of the eyes of insects and other arthropods

Robots are getting down to the size of insects, so it seems only natural that they should be getting insect eyes. A consortium of European researchers has developed the artificial Curved Artificial Compound Eye (CurvACE) which reproduces the architecture of the eyes of insects and other arthropods. The aim isn't just to provide machines with an unnerving bug-eyed stare, but to create a new class of sensors that exploit the wide field of vision and motion detecting properties of the compound eye.  Read More

Inspired by moths' eyes, scientists have created new technology that may help improve the ...

Because moths need to use every little bit of light available in order to see in the dark, their eyes are highly non-reflective. This quality has been copied in a film that can be applied to solar cells, which helps keep sunlight from being reflecting off of them before it can be utilized. Now, a new moth eye-inspired film may further help solar cells become more efficient.  Read More

UK architectural firm Blue Forest has revealed its plans to build a large nest-like treeho...

UK architectural firm Blue Forest, which has a background in the design and construction of luxury treehouses and lodges, has revealed its plans to build a large nest-like treehouse in the Eden Project’s Humid Tropics Biome. Located in Cornwall, UK, the Eden Project is the world’s largest conservatory, and the planned Biodiversity Nest will sit high amidst its treetops as part of a new Rainforest Canopy Walk.  Read More

Harvard's RoboBees could one day work together in search and rescue operations (Photo: Kev...

Almost since the beginning of their existence, robots have taken inspiration from one of nature's wonders: insects. Technological limitations typically prevent these robots from matching the small size of their many-legged muses, resulting in gargantuan examples like Festo's BionicOpter dragonfly. In stark contrast is Harvard's RoboBee, which is the first in the world to demonstrate controlled flight by an insect-sized robot.  Read More

Seahorse tails are prehensile, like a monkey's (Photo: shellac)

The meaning of the word biomimicry is being devalued and inflated, to the point that any technology or design with the vaguest resemblance to something in the natural world tends to have the word unthinkingly applied to it. PR people in the automotive and architectural fields are now particularly fond of the word. So it's refreshing to be able to report on some research that has taken a detailed look at a natural phenomenon, the armor of a seahorse, and thought about how it might be applied in the field of robotics. The researchers think a similar structure of sliding plates could be used to improve robot arms used for underwater exploration and bomb disposal.  Read More

Researchers from the University of Maryland have built a new micro air vehicle dubbed Robo...

Researchers from the University of Maryland have built a new micro air vehicle dubbed Robo Raven that's such a convincing flyer, it's been attacked by a local hawk during testing. Though numerous other robotic birds have successfully taken to the skies in recent years, including Festo's visually stunning SmartBird, this featherless mechanical marvel is capable of impressive complex aerobatic maneuvers thanks to completely programmable wings that can flap independently of each other.  Read More

Scientists have copied the structure of insect eyes to create a 180-degree hemispherical c...

Contrary to what certain cartoons may have us believe, insects’ compound eyes don’t produce a grid of tiny identical images. Instead, each of their many optical facets supply one unique section of a single composite image – sort of like the individual pixels that make up one digital image. Now, a team of scientists has replicated that eye structure, to create an ultra-wide-angle camera.  Read More

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