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Robotic Materials

March 23, 2015

Many futuristic inventions are inspired by biological systems.



Hexarm_ by Nick Dragotta

(Nick Dragotta)

High-tech inspiration. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In his mile-high lab at the University of Colorado in Boulder, roboticist Nikolaus Correll and his interdisciplinary team of computer scientists and engineers design and test the next generation of robotic materials. But he says at their core, their high-tech creations are inspired by nature.

NIKOLAUS CORRELL (University of Colorado):

I think natural systems are essentially robotic materials. All of them are cells that can either sense or compute in a very simple way.


He says to build a camouflaged car, you might want to understand how a chameleon changes color. To create airplane wings that change their shape midflight, you should watch how bird wings respond to changing aerodynamic conditions. To build bridges that repair themselves, you should observe how the banyan tree grows buttresses as it senses its load shifting. His team writes about the future of robotic materials in the journal Science. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.