Humans are the world’s greatest builders. However, we have learned a thing or two from our furry and feathered friends. From beaver dams to less obvious sources of inspiration, like owl feathers, engineers have been learning from nature for a long time.
The practice of designing and producing materials, structures, and systems modeled on nature is referred to as biomimicry. Engineers and architects can mimic biology’s form by copying physical traits from nature, or they can mimic process by duplicating systems and workflows found in nature.
Vox Media explains it best through the story of a bullet train designed by a birdwatcher.
Even modern inventions, like air conditioning and ventilation systems, appear in the animal world. Ants and prairie dogs build massive underground structures that have ventilation systems to keep air flowing and prevent CO2 from gathering inside. During the day, the structures keep the heat out, and at night, they keep cool air in. This PBS video shows how we can learn from these tiny diggers.
Animal inspiration even runs over into robot design. Check out how these robots mimic sloths and ostriches.
Many problems we humans face today are the same problems the natural world has faced for millions of years. Sometimes all you need to do to solve these problems is to look toward the amazing power of evolution!
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