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Bio-Inspiration
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Summary
Since the 15th century, engineers have looked to the natural world for design ideas. Studying birds inspired Leonardo Da Vinci to draw plans for a helicopter and hang glider. Perhaps the most famous modern example is Velcro, which was designed by a Swiss engineer who was inspired by the cockleburs that he pulled from his dog’s fur. Scientists attempt to extract the principles from animal life. As human technologies take on more of the characteristics of nature, nature becomes a better teacher. It’s called bio-mimicry, or as biologist Robert Full terms it, bio-inspiration – the relatively new scientific practice of studying systems and elements in nature and adapting them to solve modern human problems.
This design strategy is not as simple as it sounds. Organisms are not optimally designed, so scientists must study them to extract the general principles that make them successful.
Keywords: kqed, pbs, robots, biomimicry, nature, science, gecko, nanotechnology, ai engineering, Robert Full
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