Biomimetics and the Evolution of Robotics and Intelligent Systems

Biomimetics and the Evolution of Robotics and Intelligent Systems

Maki K. Habib (The American University in Cairo, Egypt) and Fusaomi Nagata (Tokyo University of Science, Japan)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2993-4.ch001
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Biologically inspired systems, known as “biomimetics” or the “mimicry of nature,” is an interdisciplinary scientific research field inspired by nature and featured by the technology outcome (hardware and software) and lies at the interface of biology, physics, chemistry, information, and engineering sciences. Biomimetics is initiated by making nature a model of inspiration that would immensely help conscious abstraction of new innovative principles and creative design ideas and concepts that help developing new techniques and functionalities, seeking new paradigms and methods, designing new materials, and developing new streams of intelligent machines, robots, systems, devices, algorithms, etc. Biologically inspired approaches create a new reality with great development and application potential with the goal of identifying specific desirable qualities and attributes in biological systems and using them in the design of new products and systems. This chapter provides the importance of biomimetic as an interdisciplinary field and its evolution, advances, challenges, and constraints along with the associated enabling technologies supporting its growth. In addition, it introduces scientific ideas and directions of research activities in the field. The chapter also presents key developments in the field of biomimetic robots and underlines the challenges facing it.
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Nature is featured by huge resources and long experience to preserve biological strategies with successful evolution and discard fail ones. Biomimicry focuses on the study of nature models and species for aspiration to develop bioinspired technologies that are capable solve effectively human ongoing and challenging problems. Nature found answers for many engineering problems and it is always inspires human seeking innovative and effective solutions. Insect and flying birds lead to innovative aeronautics development. Collision avoidance sensors mimic the whiskers of rodents help to develop collision avoidance techniques (Bar-Cohen, 2011). Nature tested every field of science and engineering leading to inventions that work well, can adapt and long lasting. In addition, living-creatures exhibit high agility, flexibility, robustness, efficiency, and the ability to learn and adapt to improve performance and survive in the real world, and hence the evolution of nature led to the introduction of highly efficient biological mechanisms and open the door for new development possibilities in materials, mechanisms, algorithms, fabrication processes, design, education, etc. (Bar-Cohen, 2011; Habib 2011; Neves & Francke, 2012; Yurtkuran et al., 2013).

Nature has always served as a model for mimicking or inspiration to humans in their efforts to improve life quality. Adopting mechanisms and capabilities from nature and the use of innovative technological solutions, led to effective materials, structures, tools, mechanisms, machines, processes, algorithms and techniques, control, systems, intelligence, and many other benefits. Humans throughout history have always sought to mimic or bioinspired by the appearance, mobility, functionality, intelligent operation, and thinking process of biological creatures (Bar-Cohen, 2003; Habib et al., 2007a; Habib et al., 2007b; Habib, 2011). Matured conventional technologies are associated with constraints and inadequate performance, and this fosters the demand for new solutions to maximize functionality while minimizing costs in energy and materials. The need to seek for new solutions is driving science to consider nature as a biologically inspired model. The driving force behind attempting to merge biological principles and physics applications stems from the recognition that there are a number of areas where biological methods are more efficient, environmentally friendly, and overall superior to current technology. Hence, understanding biological systems presents unique opportunities for wide range development of potential ideas, paradigms, concepts and methods for engineering solutions, and to create new generations of smart materials, novel advanced structures, intelligent devices and technologies. Engineers are increasingly turning to biologists to understand and learn how living organisms function and solve problems. This enables the fusion of the best solutions from nature with artificially engineered components to develop systems that are better in function and efficiency than existing conventional approaches. The new approach of using ideas from nature towards innovative development in science and technology has been given a number of names. At early stage the term bionics was used to mean the study of basic principles in nature and emerge with applications of principles and processes to the needs of mankind (Papanek, 1971). Bionics comes from biology and has recently been used in the field of medicine where its principles have been used to assist with the production of replacement organs and other body parts. Then, the term biomimetics was coined from bios to mean life, and mimesis to mean imitate and it has been used mainly in science and engineering. In addition, the term biomimicry was defined as innovation inspired by nature (Bewnyus, 1997). Benyus suggests looking to nature as “a model, measure, and mentor” to promote the concept of learning from nature as a possible methodology, emphasizing sustainability and sustainable design. Bionics, biomimetics, biognosis and biomimicry all follow nature for design ideas (Knight, 2009).

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