Brilliance of Biomimicry
As children, we would watch the skies and visualize the shapes of clouds as animals or characters. As adults, we observe nature and visualize its shapes for inspiration in engineering. We have grown from learning about nature to learning from nature. This way of thinking has led to what is called, “biomimicry” which refers to Earth-inspired design.
For decades, companies have researched and mimicked nature to evolve their own products to become economically sophisticated. One example is the Shinkansen Bullet train which is the fastest in the world. Upon its unveiling, it was also considered one of the loudest noise polluters in the area. Its engineers then redesigned the nose on a design based on the beaks of kingfishers which can dive silently into the water to retrieve its prey. This restructuring naturally led to a dramatic decrease in noise. One of the most cited successful examples of biomimicry is Georges de Mestral’s velcro which he patented in 1955 after observing how burs would stick to his clothing. More recently, NASA designed robotic feet inspired from geckos to help adhere to irregular surfaces in space.
What makes biomimicry so fascinating is its reliance on nature’s template in combining the natural with the unnatural. Plants, insects and animals have been refined into perfectly engineered specimens through years of processes such as adaptation and evolution. Rather than looking towards other forms of manmade technology, engineers look towards an already perfectly formed world that serves as a blueprint. By leaning into nature rather than pushing against it we can continue to find inspiration that will positively transform our lives.