Saturday, June 21, 2008

Biomimicry: How engineers learn from evolution


Robert Full talks about how engineers can learn from evolution seen in nature.

Examples include Sagittal Leg Spring (how motion of 2, 4, 6 and 8 legged animals can be described in exactly the same way - they bounce like pogo sticks).

SPRAWL robot made using Shape Deposition Manufacturing (SDM) by Stanford. (The material mimics organic materials)

RHex (Robot Hexapod) a bouncing autonomous robot from McGill university.

The demo of the robots starts at about 10:30 minutes into the video. RHex motion is definitely impressive and shows that probably a lot of robots in the future will have insect like motion as it makes it easier for them to negotiate different obstacles.

Mecko Geckos is a robot that uses motion inspired from lizards. Mecko Geckos can climb walls and also on ceilings. (Built by iRobot - how long before our beloved Roombas turn into insect looking vacuum cleaners, that dont only clean our floors but also our walls and ceilings of cobwebs and dust?).

Did you know that the ability of lizards to walk on walls and ceilings is not because of glue like substance or velcro like mechanism, but by Van der Waals forces! (That is intermolecular forces, which is possible because of nano sized spatulas and hairs present on the foot of the lizards. Sticky Secrets of the Gecko

The study of the structure of the lizards feet is leading to the first ever "synthetic, dry, self cleaning  adhesive".

Did you also know that Berkeley has built a 6mm robot (That doesn't move very well, but should improve as they figure out how ants move).

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