WHAT IS BIOMIMICRY? Biomimicry is a field in which scientists, engineers, and even architects study models and concepts found in nature, and try to use them to design new technologies. Here are some well-known examples of biomimicry:
-Velcro was inspired by cockleburs, which cling tenaciously to clothing and animal fur.
-The design for the Eastgate Building in Harare, Zimbabwe -- the country's largest commercial and shopping complex -- is based on the region's termite mounds.
-Both Leonardo da Vinci and the Wright brothers studied the flight of birds when designing their flying machines.
-Alexander Graham Bell designed his telephone receiver around the principles of the human ear.
-Sonar was inspired by how whales, dolphins and bats emit high-pitched sounds and analyze the returning echoes to help them navigate.
HOW ROBOTS WORK: Robots are manmade machines intended to replicate human and animal behavior. Robots are made of roughly the same components as human beings: a body structure with moveable joints; a muscle system outfitted with motors and actuators to move that body structure; a sensory system to collect information from the surrounding environment; a power source to activate the body; and a computer "brain" system to process sensory information and tell the muscles what to do. Roboticists can combine these basic elements with other technological innovations to create some very complex robotic systems.
The American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.