by Marian Renz – Ever heard of Biomimetics? Let me give you a short introduction: Biomimetics is a relatively new, interdisciplinary field of science. The Spirit: learn from nature. Understand how things work. Then, copy your findings into a technological application. Create applications, which “mimic” the nature.
That could be the body shape of a fish, allowing an autonomic underwater vehicle to do more complex maneuvers under water. That could be the gate of a cockroach, providing robots a stable movement in uneven terrain. That could be the fiber structure of a plant stem as a model for fiber reinforced plastic.
But from an engineer’s perspective, why should we use that approach with nature? Well, the idea is that the answer for every question is already given. After millions of years of evolution, organisms “developed” a solution for every problem they had. Survive under extreme conditions, show incredible biomechanical abilities, foraging with minimum effort of energy; every organism has its ability to survive the challenge of competition. They already found the solution to their special problem. And we can use that.
Everyone has his or her particular view of the world. Entomologists see the insects around us; fluid dynamic people have an eye for smoke paths or the streaming behind a boat. I see small dragonfly-planes flying around and ant-cargo-companies managing their ware shipment.
So the question never was “Can we learn from nature?” The question is: “What can we learn next?”