Often great design requires even greater inspiration, and sometimes this can be found in even the most unexpected of places.

Arguably, there’s no better designer than nature, and the natural world has provided the inspiration for some of the world’s most impressive feats of engineering.

Here we take a look at how the revolutionary field of biomimetics, or biologically-inspired engineering, is transforming the field of robotics, allowing researchers to produce some of the most advanced robot designs ever made.

The Cheetah Robot

A team of scientists and engineers from the Biomimetics Lab, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have chosen the fastest land mammal on earth, the cheetah, as their source of inspiration. In doing so, they’ve produced an amazingly sophisticated robot, known as the cheeta-bot.

This robotic cheetah can run, leap and jump in a similar way to its real life counterpart. It even runs on a quiet electric motor, giving it the stealth of a cat too.

Significantly, like a cheetah, the robot is able to build up speed quickly by moving its legs in tandem, in a pattern of movement known as bounding, helping to banish the stereotype of robots as slow and lumbering.

Ghost Swimmer

The America military is heavily involved in the field of biomimicry. They’ve recently drawn upon nature’s designs to develop a new underwater drone, named the Ghost Swimmer; which is designed to both look and swim like a real fish.

Like a real fish, the five-foot-long robot, which bears more than a passing resemblance to a shark, uses its tail for propulsion and control whilst swimming. The robot is also designed with stealth in mind, and, given that it both looks and moves like a real fish, can be pretty difficult to locate.

The robot is capable of swimming independently, or controlled remotely. It’s hoped that this innovative new robot could be used for surveillance and intelligence purposes, in addition to performing other tasks, such as spotting underwater mines.

Robotic Sea Turtle

Remarkably, researchers are also closer than ever before to developing robotic creatures that can think for themselves. A team of researchers from Singapore have recently used biomimetic principles to develop a highly manoeuvrable, robotic sea turtle which mimics the natural movement of a turtle.

Amazingly, this robotic turtle is also capable of determinedly performing an action it sets out to do, and is able to react to obstacles in its path.

The developers believe that this technology could one day be used to perform a variety of specialized tasks, including underwater nuclear waste detection and even water quality monitoring.

These are just a few examples of recent advances in the field of biomimetics, which are allowing for the development of highly sophisticated robots, capable of interacting more freely with their environment.

Here at Airedale Springs we like to keep up to date with all the latest news and updates from the engineering field. We’re a leading spring manufacturers and many of our springs are used for a wide range of applications within the engineering industry.

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