German engineering firm Festo is creating a robot army. Sounds scary, right? But there’s no need to fear a “Skynet”-type apocalypse quite yet, because these robots want to do good by making laborious tasks easier in the factories of the future. And they’re using nature as their inspiration.
Festo summarizes the motivation behind their research on their website: “Gripping, moving, controlling and measuring – nature performs all of these tasks instinctively, easily and efficiently. What could be more logical than to examine these natural phenomena and learn from them?”
It makes a lot of sense. Why reinvent the wheel when nature has already spent epochs perfecting the mechanics needed for survival on the Earth? This practice of bio-mimicry is widespread in other fields such as molecular biology, where many drugs are designed by optimizing already existing natural products from microorganisms.
What’s really brilliant about this body of research is that while many of the designs have obvious practical applications, many others have been made in the creative spirit of learning, with some wild results.
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