Technologies Inspired by Nature

Published on April 12th, 2016

After 3.5 billion years of intensive R&D, nature has come up with some ingenious solutions for everything from defying gravity with stickiness to surviving a century-long dehydration using sugar.

Sometimes living systems directly inspire scientists and engineers to develop new technologies. Cosmos reports on ten examples:

• Velcro
• Gecko skin
• Whale fin wind-turbine
• Bullet train kingfisher
• Flight – maple seed
• Leggy robots
• Hive mind grid
• Candy-coated vaccines
• Candy-coated vaccines
Shark skin.

Inspired by the microscopic scales on shark skin, NASA scientists developed a drag-reducing coating for ships. Referred to as ‘riblets’, the technology was used by Dennis Conner’s Stars and Stripes team when they won the America’s Cup in 1987.

The coating was so successful, the competition deemed it an unfair advantage and banned the technology, before later reinstating it. The scales are also constantly moving, which stops micro-organisms from clinging to the hull, reducing the need for anti-fouling treatments.

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