Bionics (also known as biomimetics, biognosis, biomimicry, or bionical creativity engineering) is the application of methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology.Some dictionaries, however, explain the word as being formed from “biology” + “electronics”.
The transfer of technology between lifeforms and synthetic constructs is desirable because evolutionary pressure typically forces natural systems to become highly optimized and efficient. A classical example is the development of dirt- and water-repellent paint (coating) from the observation that the surface of the lotus flower plant is practically unsticky for anything (the lotus effect). Examples of bionics in engineering include the hulls of boats imitating the thick skin of dolphins; sonar, radar, and medical ultrasound imaging imitating the echolocation of bats.
In the field of computer science, the study of bionics has produced artificial neurons, artificial neural networks, and swarm intelligence. Evolutionary computation was also motivated by bionics ideas but it took the idea further by simulating evolution in silico and producing well-optimized solutions that had never appeared in nature.
Often, the study of bionics emphasizes implementing a function found in nature rather than just imitating biological structures. For example, in computer science, cybernetics tries to model the feedback and control mechanisms that are inherent in intelligent behavior, while artificial intelligence tries to model the intelligent function regardless of the particular way it can be achieved.
The conscious copying of examples and mechanisms from natural organisms and ecologies is a form of applied case-based reasoning, treating nature itself as a database of solutions that already work. Proponents argue that the selective pressure placed on all natural life forms minimizes and removes failures.
Although almost all engineering could be said to be a form of biomimicry, the modern origins of this field are usually attributed to Buckminster Fuller and its later codification as a house or field of study to Janine Benyus.
Roughly, we can distinguish three biological levels in cool biology after which technology can be modeled:
1.)Mimicking natural methods of manufacture
2.)Imitating mechanisms found in nature (velcro)
3.)Studying organizational principles from social behaviour of organisms, such as the flocking behaviour of birds or the emergent behaviour of bees and ants.
1.)Velcro is the most famous example of biomimetics. In 1948, the Swiss engineer George de Mestral was cleaning his dog of burrs picked up on a walk when he realized how the hooks of the burrs clung to the fur.
2.)Leonardo da Vinci‘s flying machines and ships are early examples of drawing from nature in engineering.
3.)Julian Vincent drew from the study of pinecones when he developed in 2004 “smart” clothing that adapts to changing temperatures. “I wanted a nonliving system which would respond to changes in moisture by changing shape”, he said. “There are several such systems in plants, but most are very small — the pinecone is the largest and therefore the easiest to work on”. Pinecones respond to warmer temperatures by opening their scales (to disperse their seeds). The smart fabric does the same thing, opening up when it is warm, and shutting tight when cold.
4.)”Morphing aircraft wings” that change shape according to the speed and duration of flight have been designed in 2004 by biomimetic scientists from Penn State University. The morphing wings were inspired by different bird species that have differently shaped wings according to the speed at which they fly. In order to change the shape and underlying structure of the aircraft wings, the researchers needed to make the overlying skin also be able to change, which their design does by covering the wings with fish-inspired scales that could slide over each other. In some respects this is a refinement of the swing-wing design.
5.)Nanostructures and physical mechanisms that produce the shining color of butterfly wings were reproduced in silico by Greg Parker, professor of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton and research student Luca Plattner in the field of photonics, which is electronics using photons as the information carrier instead of electrons.
6.)Some paints and roof tiles undergo a form of self-purification in which their surfaces are kept clean just as the lotus.
7.)Neuromorphic chips, silicon retinae or cochleae, has wiring that is modelled after real neural networks. S.a.: connectivity
8.)Synthetic or ‘robotic’ vegetation, which aids in conservation and restoration, are machines designed to mimic many of the functions of living vegetation.