Humans have drawn inspiration from nature for millennia; industries benefit from applying similar concepts to their products, ensuring a streamlined result. Biomimicry provides sustainable solutions to every day challenges through imitating nature’s strategies.

As the 26th of October is Cat Day, we are looking into the contributions cats’ nature has provided in research and development of technology relevant to the advancement of the engineering industry.

Biomimicry in Practise

Bio-Inspired Computer

Cats have an amazing ability to recognise human faces, which engineers are taking advantage of to build more complex computers and electronic devices. According to computer engineer and researcher Wei Lu, The University of Michigan is “building a computer in the same way that nature builds a brain”.

The feline brain will allow the development of a circuit element behaving similarly to biological synapses; as it can remember past voltages, the circuit works like memory and imitates the learning process of the human brain.

One of the today’s supercomputers is highly sophisticated and advanced, surpassing the scale of a cat brain with the ability to simulate a billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses. The computer, Dawn, resides at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and it’s an immense machine composed of more than 140,000 central processing units. With bio-inspired computers, however, we will be able to reduce the needed million watts of electricity that it needs and speed up computer performance.

sleeping cat on sofa

e-Whiskers: Nanotube Sensors

Researchers from the University of California (UC) Berkeley and at Berkeley Lab developed e-whiskers that are responsive to pressure equivalent to a single Pascal, or approximately 0.000145038 psi. Consisting of high-aspect-ratio elastic fibres coated with conductive composite films of nanotubes and nanoparticles, the e-whiskers can potentially allow robots to manoeuvre within any surrounding environment.

Future applications of the e-whiskers can aid tactile sensing for accurate spatial mapping. They can also lead to the development of wearable sensors that help to measure heartbeat and pulse rate. Its excellent performance, light weight, and ease of fabrication mean that e-whiskers will be a functional and vital component of human-machine user interfaces, advanced robotics, and biological applications.

Biomimicry guarantees an interesting future for engineering; research and development in the industry has effects throughout daily life objects, guaranteeing an enhanced world that mimics nature.

cat having its head scratched by human hand

Here at Airedale Springs we’re always enthusiastic about the future of engineering, which is why we always ensure our engineers are highly skilled and trained. Get in touch with us on 01535 643456 to speak to a member of our team; we’re always happy to answer any query you might have!

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