“Nature is the best teacher” and by nature, it refers to all plants, animals and birds besides places. Getting inspired by nature’s incidents is not a new thing for the technological world, but had been in roll for centuries. But we can say it’s profound in this modern era. Animals and birds’ natural behavior have inspired scientists and innovators which they had enacted into their inventions and discoveries. There exists many inventions truly inspired from animals, that are really surprising to know. Science & Engineering calls it “biomimicry” – the invention or discovery (or even acts) imitating life and nature. Here are ten technology & innovations inspired by animals and birds..
Humpback Whales – Wind Blades
Humpback Whales are one of the largest weighing animals of the world, yet they are profound swimmers, which attributes down to its flippers (fins). They have warty ridges on the front edge of their fins, called tubercles, reasoning to its swimming speed and its ability to change direction instantly.
A Scientist named Frank Fish noted this peculiarity and concepted the idea to the wind turbine blades and resulted out with increase in speed of the blade and maneuverability of the blade to the wind direction, generating more power.
A firm called WhalePower also scrutinized this and is delivering blades inspired by Humpback Whales’ fins. They account that this proceeded to improve safety, performance of airplanes, fans and more, besides thickening efficiency.
Gecko – Spiderman Gloves
Gecko are a type of lizards that have specially adapted feet, that makes it to get attached to surfaces, against gravity like Spiderman. Scientists while prospecting for the capability, found that gecko has thousands of tiny elastic hairs called ‘setae’, which makes them to be adhered to surfaces.
An idea flashed in Stanford University’s researchers based on this ability, to design wearable gloves for humans to stick and climb on to vertical surfaces. The result was “Gecko Gloves”, that enables a 70kg man to climb onto 12 feet high vertical glass wall. The 140 sq.cm silicone gloves on each hand does so and targeted in use to window cleaners, astronauts (to hold objects) and military applications (to climb walls & steeps).
Gecko – Contact & Camera Lenses
Gecko had also inspired scientists through its eyes too, which is 350 times more sensitive than humans and also lists them to a few animals that can see color at night. Researches in Lund University, Sweden found the cause being large density of cones in gecko’s retina, which means they can detect more specific light wavelengths. With the knowledge from the gecko eyes researches are looking to develop more effective cameras and maybe even useful multifocal contact lenses.
Mosquitoes – Surgical needles
Have you ever thought of mosquitoes sucking blood is less painful than surgical needles? Well, if it’s so, why can’t a needle could be designed as painless suckers/pokers?
This led Researchers and engineers of Kansai University, Japan to design a needle inspired by mosquito’s proboscis (needle-like mouth), which is electrochemically etched, sharped and jagged. The silicone needle’s effectiveness for easy painless insertion was experimentally and flawlessly proven.
Woodpecker Skulls – Shock Absorbers in Airplanes
There’s this natural ability of a woodpecker to strike the tree trunks ultimately fast all day long, that’s powerful enough to shove the tree itself. It’s not possible for any bird out there that can hit hard on trees but still have no impact on their head, except this woodpeckers. Thanks to its special skulls which have built-in shock absorbers, and scientists are stealing their natural design for airplane black boxes.
A woodpecker drums a tree as fast as 22 times per second. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, used video and CT scans of woodpeckers to discover that their skulls are designed with four structures that absorb mechanical shock, and their beaks also have an area filled with a spongy and cerebrospinal fluid that work to inhibit vibration and concussions. The scientists used this to create more shock-resistant flight recorders, also known as black boxes.
Camel’s nostrils – Saltwater Desalination
Camels have unique nostrils to conserve water, aiding them to combat the driest climates in deserts. The nasal surfaces of camels help conserve water by using hygroscopic properties to remove water from air during exhalation. In fact, the dry nasal surfaces of camels can absorb and hold onto the water molecules from the surrounding air. What an invention by god (nature).
Indeed, camels can open and close their nostrils at their own will. Researchers in the Sahara Desert are using the same technique to remove salt from saltwater to irrigate plants by using cool ground water to evaporate warm sea water, which is then condensed in a salt-free form.
Giraffes – Venous Leg Ulcers & Compression Therapy
Venous leg ulcers in humans is a kind of an ulcer, due to abnormal vein function in the legs. The common causes for the disease include blood clots, injury, inheritance, ageing, lack of physical activity and obesity. Medical officials suggest compression therapy for diagnosis; the idea being stolen from Giraffe.
Giraffe is one of the tallest animals in the world, which also means their blood has to circulate a lot of area through long legs. To clear it up, the distance between a giraffe’s heart and feet is twice that of humans. And they also have smaller calf muscles, no moving toes and minimal ankle joint movement. Yet, they don’t suffer from edema due to it’s extremely tough, fibrous and non-elastic skin. The skin of giraffe creates a rigid sleeve that optimizes the venous return.
Scientists derived this aspect into the medical field as compression therapy for the cure of the same.
Mussels – Adhesives
These underwater mollusks have inspired scientists to make one of the strongest adhesives on the market. Researchers have cracked how mussels attach to wet surfaces, and have replicated it into an adhesive for commercial use. They created a biomimetic polymer model that contains proteins with the amino acid DOPA, which provides the glue’s adhesion. In a study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, scientists found that the glue performed 10 times better than other commercial adhesives when used to bond polished aluminum.
Elephant’s Trunk – Bionic Robotic Arms
Elephant’s trunk owes to its significance and aspires by having over 4000 muscles and no bones. This peculiarity incited researchers from the company Festo to examine its features and to mimic its functionality. The end result is these bionic robot arms, which is considered as ‘third-hand system’. As elephants use its trunk for gripping and handling objects, these robotic arms are also sketched to grip, grab, hold, and so and so. It’s a three fin-shaped fingers that helps though.
Researches says that bionic arms could possibly aid handicapped people, medical and industrial applications.
Termites – Swarm Robotics
Swarm robotics, a sub-field of robotics for construction purposes mimics termites, in its operations. Despite its diminutive size, the termite is one of nature’s most ingenious builders and, in large numbers, is capable of creating amazingly complex mud structures. How the termites do this is interesting as they do not follow the commands of a central “architect” termite, but rather the rules of behavior are naturally imprinted in its DNA.
Harvard’s Self organizing system Research Group led the research onto this aspect and build small robots, that collaborate in its works, going hand-to-hand to complete the task. Swarm-bots don’t have any centralized conduct on the robots, instead each of the robots involved, work through the task conjointly and if any robot malfunctions, the others do carry the task, likely as termites.
The Swarm-bot field is expanding now, accounting to its significance to construct buildings in unsafe remote places.
Wasps – Drills bits
Ever came across horntail wasps? They have two whip-like needles on its end, which they use to drill into trees, depositing their young ones.
Biologists couldn’t believe for years, how these tiny wasps made drills at any angles with such a little body weight and without applying any pressure. Years of study helped scientists to realize that two needles inch their way into wood, pushing off and reinforcing each other like a zipper. Astronomers in University of Bath in England copied the wasps’ nature to drill down the Mars & asteroid’s surface, where the obstacle of drilling at zero gravity is resolved. It’s time to thank wasps! Nature is the Best Teacher!
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