Biomimicry: Products of Natural Technology
There has been an explosion of new products as a result of diligent research on the animal kingdom and how some species have developed to solve complex problems that humans are now trying to solve. There is a name for such a field and it is known as biomimicry, a sub field of Bionics. Biomimicry can be defined as the replication and imitation of the models, systems and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. There have been a number of products and breakthroughs which have been developed through biomimicry. In this blog I am going to reveal to you my top three favorite examples of some technological advances made through the field. Also at the end of the post please fill free to vote on your favorite of advance out of three.
3) Mercedes-Benz Bionic Concept Car
Let us start shall we? Most of us have dreamed or imagined what it might feel like to fly and soar through sky. But have you ever imagined being a fish on land? I hope not… This leads me to my third product developed through the field Biomimicry, the Mercedes-Benz Bionic concept car. This car is truly a one of a kind. It was designed and modeled after the yellow boxfish (see below) known for its aerodynamic shape and curves. The goal for the car was to achieve the ultimate aerodynamic, light weight, car in order to achieve fuel efficiency. It is truly a one of a kind car and in fact achieved the goal intended when it was designed. According to National Geographic wind tunnel tests have shown off the car’s aerodynamics to actually help boost the cars fuel efficiency to as high as 70 miles per gallon. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Next time you hear the term “You look like a fish out of water” you could very well take it as a compliment given this highly efficient car.
(Mercedes Benz: From Fish to Car)
2) Vertical Wind Turbines
The second product is truly remarkable and poses a solution to a controversial topic. Global warming is a major problem human kind faces and the development of wind turbines producing wind energy have given humankind hope. Yet although we all know wind turbines are good many people feel as if wind turbines look ugly and degrade the beauty of the Earth. This ideology has made wind turbines a strongly controversial topic stalling progress. John Dabiri of Caltech has found a solution to the debate. After researching the tactics and behaviors of schools of fish Dabiri became enlightened of the way such groups of fish take advantage of the currents in order to swim vertically effortlessly. Dabiri confronted with the problem of redesigning wind turbines in the effort of solving spacial, energy and bird issues. What did Dabiri come up with? Well the end result was something out of this world or at least not from dry land. Dabiri designed powerfully efficient vertical wind turbines. This new design which was vertical as opposed to horizontal not only solved the problems of birds being killed but also the problem of spacing the turbines farther from each other meaning now more turbines could be placed in smaller areas maximizing energy creation. Hopefully Dabiri’s design catches on and we start to see schools of wind turbines.
(John Dabiri’s Vertical Wind Turbines)
The number one product made from Biomimicry is a well known one. When I was a little kid I had velcro strapped sneakers since I was too lazy to keep on double tying my laces in order to sprint around the playground. Never did I ever imagine that the inspiration for velcro was to be found in the little fuzzies found in the forests known as burrs. Velcro is probably the best known and most commercially successful product developed from biomimicry. Velcro was developed by the swiss engineer George de Mestral after his dog was covered in burrs when returning from a hunting trip. When they got home the engineer who was intrigued put the burrs to the microscope and discovered tiny hooks to be the root of the stickiness of the burrs. Following this discover Mestral experimented in the hopes of developing a convenent strap and after a few years he did it the 7th best thing since sliced bread was created.
(Microscopic Picture of Velcro)
Well that concludes my top three countdown for favorite biomimicry inventions and advancements. It is truly ironic how some of the best break throughs in science come from other species. Also it is funny how many of the problems created by humans are being solved by other forms of lives such as fish or plants. Humans think they own the world, they might but they are also destroying it. Thankfully we are not the only life on this planet. Please do not forget to vote in the poll for which invention is your favorite, I am curious to find out.