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November 18, 2014 AT 4:30 am

Highspeed Japanese Train Inspired By Birds #Biomimicry

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Highspeed low volume Japanese train inspired by the Kingfisher Bird. via living circular

What is observed in nature: Once it has identified its prey, the Kingfisher dives into the water with very few ripples. The long and thin shape of its beak allows it to move quickly and quietly from the air into the water despite a significant change in pressure between the two environments.

The challenge: In Japan, the Shinkansen (Japanese high speed train) links the largest cities on the islands of Honshū and Kyūshū passing through a number of tunnels. When a train enters a tunnel, air compression creates shock waves which are unpleasant for both travelers, who experience unpleasant sensations in the ears, and residents who hear real thunder claps when the trains exit the tunnel.

The solution: In the 1990s, Eiji Nakatsu, chief engineer at JR West and amateur birdwatcher, was inspired by the Kingfisher’s beak to design the nose of the new Shinkansen. This innovative design prevents the formation of waves and related disturbances. It also reduces the energy consumption of trains by 15% and increases speed by 10%.

How does it work? How one engineer’s birdwatching made Japan’s bullet train better

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