The theme of the #GMIS2019 conference will be ‘nature-inspired technologies’, otherwise known as biomimetic design and biomimicry. This science, of mapping design challenges to the natural world to find innovative solutions, has led to some of the world’s most important inventions.
Humpback whales use their fins at different angles to increase their lift. Scientists discovered that a higher angle proficiency was beneficial for the whale to manoeuvre in tight circles. It led experts to create serrated-edge wind turbines that proved to be more efficient and quieter than the typical smooth blades.
Boxfish were discovered to have great structural strength and low mass resulting in low flow resistance and an extremely coefficient drag – this inspired the bionic car, which has reduced drag, greater rigidity, lower weight and fuel consumption than traditional cars.
The design of Japanese bullet trains are inspired by the Kingfisher, renowned for travelling between the mediums of air & water, with very little splash. The tip of the train is formatted with a long beak-shaped nose which reduces noise, electricity usage and increases speed.
Velcro was invented after scientists noticed how easy it was for burrs to stick to dog’s hair due to the simple design of tiny hooks at the end of the burrs spines. This replicated synthetically enabled experts to create velcro.
The African Namibia Desert Beetle collects water by condensing fog into water droplets in the bumps on its shell. This inspired researchers to replicate this with glass and plastic – enabling them to collect minute amounts of water in addition to providing the groundwork for other applications such as building cooling devices.
Examining the microscopic patterns of ventricles on the surface of sharks’ skin allowed scientists to replicate the process to create a ‘riblets’ film which reduces drag and deters microorganisms (such as algae) attaching to the surface – an invention extremely useful to marine vessels and which had added environmental benefits.
Biomimicry is perhaps most famous in forms of human
flight, with experts studying how birds soar inspiring how
man could potentially fly. Eventually, the Wright brothers
to successfully invent, build and fly the world’s first