Photokina 2014 highlights

Biomimicry

The BionicOpter robot dragonfly is capable of maneuvering in all directions, hovering in m...

The dragonfly is quite the show off when it comes to flying. It can hover in mid-air, maneuver in all directions, and glide without so much as a beat of its wings. After succeeding in capturing the essence of a herring gull with the SmartBird, the folks over at German pneumatic and electric automation company Festo challenged themselves with the creation of a robotic addition to the dragonfly family – the BionicOpter.  Read More

Researchers at Virginia Tech have created a larger, improved version of their existing Rob...

Last year, a team of researchers from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering unveiled RoboJelly – a robotic jellyfish in development since 2009, that’s about the size of a man’s hand. While the squishy little robot is certainly an impressive feat of engineering, the same team has now created a bigger, better jellybot, known as Cyro.  Read More

The Salamandra robotica II is the latest model of an amphibious robot that can walk, crawl...

Scientists have often taken inspiration from the animal world in robotic designs, with bots modeled after fish, sandfish lizards, and even sea turtles. Such biomimicry makes sense – if you want a robot to move a certain way, why not look to creatures that already can? With the Salamandra robotica II, researchers have tried to replicate the movement of a salamander in designing a robot that can walk or crawl on land as easily as it swims in the water.  Read More

Scientists have replicated the flexible-but-tough internal structure of the sea sponge, to...

Chances are that if you were heading into battle, you wouldn’t wish that you were covered in sponges. It turns out that the sea sponge, however, has a unique structure that allows it to be flexible while remaining relatively impervious to predators. Scientists have now simulated this structure, in a lab-created material that may someday find use in body armor.  Read More

Researchers at UPenn's GRASP Lab have replicated how a bird of prey grasps objects mid-fli...

Here's something you don't see everyday: a Micro Unmanned Aerial vehicle (MAV) that can grab objects on the fly with all the elegance of an eagle snatching a fish from the water's surface. Although MAVs and UAVs are increasingly being equipped to pick up, transport, and drop off payloads, we've never seen this incredibly precise form of grasping on the fly replicated – until now.  Read More

A bacterium, after being 'deflated' by a cicada wing's array of blunt spikes

Imagine if you took a water balloon and placed it on a bed of widely-spaced blunt nails. While the nails wouldn’t be pointy enough to pierce the balloon’s rubber skin, eventually the weight of the water would cause the rubber suspended between the nails to rupture. Well, it turns out that the clanger cicada uses the same principle to kill bacteria that settle on its wings. That finding could result in a new generation of antibacterial materials.  Read More

Tallinn University's Prof. Maarja Kruusmaa inspects one of the FILOSE robotic fish

We’ve already seen several underwater robots that mimic the swimming abilities of fish. The European FILOSE research project, however, is also interested in copying another feature of our finned friends – their lateral line. The result could be swimming robots that use differences in water pressure to navigate and save energy.  Read More

The lesser dog-nosed bat and the robotic bat wing

Recently, we've seen a robotic ostrich. Now, there’s a robot bat – or at least, part of one. Joseph Bahlman, a graduate student at Brown University, with the help of Professors Kenneth Breuer and Sharon Swartz, has developed a robotic bat wing that mimics the ligaments, skin and structural supports of the real thing. The purpose of the motorized plastic bat is to gain a better understanding of how bats are engineered and fly.  Read More

A rendering of a future version of the crash-proof AirBurr, navigating a disaster site

If you’ve ever watched a fly trying to find its way around a house, you might have noticed that it didn’t take a particularly graceful approach – it probably bounced off a lot of windows and walls, until by process of elimination, it found a route that was clear. Well, researchers at Switzerland’s EPFL Laboratory of Intelligent Systems are taking that same approach with the latest version of their autonomous AirBurr UAV – it’s built to run into things, in order to map and navigate its environment.  Read More

A group of remoras, freeloading off a bull shark (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you’ve seen even a few minutes of any documentary on sharks, then chances are you’ve seen a remora. They’re the smaller fish that hitch rides on sharks by sucking onto them. Not only are the remoras able to achieve a seal against their hosts’ rough, sandpaper-like skin, but they also don’t appear to harm that skin in the process. Researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute are now studying how the remoras manage this, in hopes of applying their findings to the development of next-generation adhesives.  Read More

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