Biomimicry in Robotics

Biomimicry is neat. It’s incredibly fascinating to see mechanical representations of cheetahs, falcons, kangaroos, ants, and more, all built from wires and steel and servo motors. Enough robots have been designed using biomimicry that we could probably put together a pretty remarkable robotic zoo. But biomimicry is more than just neat. Biomimicry can help roboticists solve difficult problems, and can save a lot of time, money, and effort in the process.

So what is biomimicry?

Biomimicry looks to nature to provide ideas, concepts, inspiration, or solutions to the design of structures or systems. In a sense, biomimicry looks to replicate the design of living things in nonliving things.

What exactly does this mean?

Imagine you’re attempting to build a robot (let’s assume that you have some sort of training or know-how in the field of robotics, and putting together a robot is a realistic feat for you). You want to robot that is really good at jumping. But before you start building your jumping robot, you have to design it.

Now, you could totally start from scratch. Try and think up and develop different ways to get your robot up and jumping. This could mean a lot of trial and error, making minor tweaks and adjustments over a long period of time before you totally scrap the idea and try to start over again. You repeat this process a few dozen times before you start to see some progress.

At this point you’ve spent a lot of money doing research and development, and you’ve still only got a few ideas that might work.

Biomimicry is an option

Another option is biomimicry. You can rack your brain and think of all the animals that have been evolving for millions of years to become perfect jumpers. Rabbits, grasshoppers, frogs, kangaroos — they’ve all been jumping their whole lives and they’re pretty good at it.

Instead of starting from scratch, you can use biomimicry to find a starting point in nature. This will immensely speed up your robot building process, and you’ll have a jumping robot in no time.

Biomimicry is an essential tool in a lot of robotics projects. Here are just a few: