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TOP5 of innovations inspired by nature

Nature has the answer. Both researchers and inventors find new ideas and solutions by observing it. The high tech world does the same by adopting biomimetics as a way to create powerful products and solutions. Discover five uncommon innovations inspired by living beings in the new article by the EcoGuide IT team.

 Shrimp’s eyesight

Biomimetics is on a roll: in France, 140 researcher teams have worked on this subject and the Biomim’Expo exhibition, which took place on July 1st and 2nd, has been the occasion to unify all of these projects. Many of our daily devices come from observing nature. For instance, the GPS algorithm is based on the observation of ants and their ability to find their way outside of the anthill. Sea creatures such as shrimp bring a humanitarian dimension to this innovation. The shrimp’s 16 cone cells (versus 3 for humans) in its eyes bring it a detailed colour sample.  This shrimp research has inspired a medical camera to detect tumours during biopsy. This new technology will improve the prevention and early detection of tumours.

Robotic earthworm

Earthworm’s means of transport is more complicated than it seems to be. It is named peristaltic, describing the capacity to contract several muscular groups at the same time in the aim to move forward. The Biologically Inspired Robotics laboratory of Cambridge University, has created the Compliant Modular Mesh Worm (CMMWorm) which reproduces worm’s motions. This robot is divided in 6 parts, able to contract from 52% of its diameter to escape confined spaces and to go forward on smooth floors. Its applications are numerous in sectors such as endoscopic surgery and rescue missions into caves or rubble. Earthworms might be new life saving superheroes? It will be a lovely story for children’s books.

Adjustment algorithm

The Smart Systems and Robotic Institution from Marie Curie University and Wyoming University, have collaborated to improve robots and their capacity to adjust when facing adversity. By watching the behaviour of injured animals, researchers have created an algorithm to enable robots to continue functioning, even after losing a component or/and some motor capabilities. The T-Resilience robot can understand that a part of itself is damaged, analyse its adjustment options, and try to choose the best one. All this work is done in only 2 minutes, and it should improve its survival rate in unfriendly environment. Thank to animals the next robot generation could be stronger, more autonomous and more efficient.

Bees data

Unfortunately, bees are often on the front page because of pesticide consequences. They are the symbol of the delicacy of biodiversity.  They are inspiring in their organisation and ability to observe, and even the hive itself can inspire. Indeed, a French company named Celeste has built its data centre based on hive architecture in order to cool down its servers efficiently. It uses the fresh air from outside from below and let warm air escape at the top. Celeste goes further by using the warm air to heat up its office. There are numerous advantages: energy consumption reduction, inexhaustible raw material (air) and value creation from it. The data centre works with a free cooling solution 95% of the year while keeping safe data in a local and responsible way. Definitively, we have a lot to learn from bees!

Octopus bot

Octopus tentacles can stiffen, soften and stretch following the animal’s needs. Researchers from Sainte Anne of Pies superior school in Italy, have identified it as useful tool for medicine, especially in the surgery sector. They have created a robot with arms able to bend to 255°, to stretch to 62% of its original size and go from 60% to 200% of its rigidity. Moreover, it can handle soft organs without damage, while carrying on the surgical intervention. It is an essential tool in micro surgery to get access to cramped parts while reducing equipment and incision needs. It might be a big step for the kinds of surgery in which human ability is limited. A perfect union appears: nature, human and robots, to save more lives and to improve treatments.

This TOP 5 represents only a few parts of IT innovations based on biomimetic models. Nature is a source of solutions and inspirations. To find new solutions for the long term, humanity has watched the sky and space, but often answers are right before our eyes. Insects, sea animals and plants have a lot to deliver, to help us develop innovative systems to assist in daily life. Hopefully one day humanity will be able to understand the essential lesson from nature: wisdom. Huge topic!

“There is another world, but it is into this one” Paul Eluard

Juliette Bernier