Clarity of objectives and working principles enhances the success of biomimetic programs

Jonas O. Wolff, David Wells, Chris R. Reid, Sean J. Blamires

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Biomimetics, the transfer of functional principles from living systems into product designs, is increasingly being utilized by engineers. Nevertheless, recurring problems must be overcome if it is to avoid becoming a short-lived fad. Here we assess the efficiency and suitability of methods typically employed by examining three flagship examples of biomimetic design approaches from different disciplines: (1) the creation of gecko-inspired adhesives; (2) the synthesis of spider silk, and (3) the derivation of computer algorithms from natural self-organizing systems. We find that identification of the elemental working principles is the most crucial step in the biomimetic design process. It bears the highest risk of failure (e.g. losing the target function) due to false assumptions about the working principle. Common problems that hamper successful implementation are: (i) a discrepancy between biological functions and the desired properties of the product, (ii) uncertainty about objectives and applications, (iii) inherent limits in methodologies, and (iv) false assumptions about the biology of the models. Projects that aim for multi-functional products are particularly challenging to accomplish. We suggest a simplification, modularisation and specification of objectives, and a critical assessment of the suitability of the model. Comparative analyses, experimental manipulation, and numerical simulations followed by tests of artificial models have led to the successful extraction of working principles. A searchable database of biological systems would optimize the choice of a model system in top-down approaches that start at an engineering problem. Only when biomimetic projects become more predictable will there be wider acceptance of biomimetics as an innovative problem-solving tool among engineers and industry.

LanguageEnglish
Article number051001
Number of pages11
JournalBioinspiration and Biomimetics
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 22 Sep 2017

Fingerprint

Biomimetics
Engineers
Spiders
Lizards
Silk
Biological systems
Product design
Adhesives
Uncertainty
Industry
Databases
Specifications
Efficiency
Computer simulation

Cite this

@article{4b6c89b799e146d1800fb88b37040722,
title = "Clarity of objectives and working principles enhances the success of biomimetic programs",
abstract = "Biomimetics, the transfer of functional principles from living systems into product designs, is increasingly being utilized by engineers. Nevertheless, recurring problems must be overcome if it is to avoid becoming a short-lived fad. Here we assess the efficiency and suitability of methods typically employed by examining three flagship examples of biomimetic design approaches from different disciplines: (1) the creation of gecko-inspired adhesives; (2) the synthesis of spider silk, and (3) the derivation of computer algorithms from natural self-organizing systems. We find that identification of the elemental working principles is the most crucial step in the biomimetic design process. It bears the highest risk of failure (e.g. losing the target function) due to false assumptions about the working principle. Common problems that hamper successful implementation are: (i) a discrepancy between biological functions and the desired properties of the product, (ii) uncertainty about objectives and applications, (iii) inherent limits in methodologies, and (iv) false assumptions about the biology of the models. Projects that aim for multi-functional products are particularly challenging to accomplish. We suggest a simplification, modularisation and specification of objectives, and a critical assessment of the suitability of the model. Comparative analyses, experimental manipulation, and numerical simulations followed by tests of artificial models have led to the successful extraction of working principles. A searchable database of biological systems would optimize the choice of a model system in top-down approaches that start at an engineering problem. Only when biomimetic projects become more predictable will there be wider acceptance of biomimetics as an innovative problem-solving tool among engineers and industry.",
keywords = "biomimetics, bio-inspiration, engineering, evolution, gecko-inspired adhesives, spider silk, swarm intelligence",
author = "Wolff, {Jonas O.} and David Wells and Reid, {Chris R.} and Blamires, {Sean J.}",
year = "2017",
month = "9",
day = "22",
doi = "10.1088/1748-3190/aa86ff",
language = "English",
volume = "12",
journal = "Bioinspiration and Biomimetics",
issn = "1748-3182",
publisher = "IOP Publishing",
number = "5",

}

Clarity of objectives and working principles enhances the success of biomimetic programs. / Wolff, Jonas O.; Wells, David; Reid, Chris R.; Blamires, Sean J.

In: Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, Vol. 12, No. 5, 051001, 22.09.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Clarity of objectives and working principles enhances the success of biomimetic programs

AU - Wolff,Jonas O.

AU - Wells,David

AU - Reid,Chris R.

AU - Blamires,Sean J.

PY - 2017/9/22

Y1 - 2017/9/22

N2 - Biomimetics, the transfer of functional principles from living systems into product designs, is increasingly being utilized by engineers. Nevertheless, recurring problems must be overcome if it is to avoid becoming a short-lived fad. Here we assess the efficiency and suitability of methods typically employed by examining three flagship examples of biomimetic design approaches from different disciplines: (1) the creation of gecko-inspired adhesives; (2) the synthesis of spider silk, and (3) the derivation of computer algorithms from natural self-organizing systems. We find that identification of the elemental working principles is the most crucial step in the biomimetic design process. It bears the highest risk of failure (e.g. losing the target function) due to false assumptions about the working principle. Common problems that hamper successful implementation are: (i) a discrepancy between biological functions and the desired properties of the product, (ii) uncertainty about objectives and applications, (iii) inherent limits in methodologies, and (iv) false assumptions about the biology of the models. Projects that aim for multi-functional products are particularly challenging to accomplish. We suggest a simplification, modularisation and specification of objectives, and a critical assessment of the suitability of the model. Comparative analyses, experimental manipulation, and numerical simulations followed by tests of artificial models have led to the successful extraction of working principles. A searchable database of biological systems would optimize the choice of a model system in top-down approaches that start at an engineering problem. Only when biomimetic projects become more predictable will there be wider acceptance of biomimetics as an innovative problem-solving tool among engineers and industry.

AB - Biomimetics, the transfer of functional principles from living systems into product designs, is increasingly being utilized by engineers. Nevertheless, recurring problems must be overcome if it is to avoid becoming a short-lived fad. Here we assess the efficiency and suitability of methods typically employed by examining three flagship examples of biomimetic design approaches from different disciplines: (1) the creation of gecko-inspired adhesives; (2) the synthesis of spider silk, and (3) the derivation of computer algorithms from natural self-organizing systems. We find that identification of the elemental working principles is the most crucial step in the biomimetic design process. It bears the highest risk of failure (e.g. losing the target function) due to false assumptions about the working principle. Common problems that hamper successful implementation are: (i) a discrepancy between biological functions and the desired properties of the product, (ii) uncertainty about objectives and applications, (iii) inherent limits in methodologies, and (iv) false assumptions about the biology of the models. Projects that aim for multi-functional products are particularly challenging to accomplish. We suggest a simplification, modularisation and specification of objectives, and a critical assessment of the suitability of the model. Comparative analyses, experimental manipulation, and numerical simulations followed by tests of artificial models have led to the successful extraction of working principles. A searchable database of biological systems would optimize the choice of a model system in top-down approaches that start at an engineering problem. Only when biomimetic projects become more predictable will there be wider acceptance of biomimetics as an innovative problem-solving tool among engineers and industry.

KW - biomimetics

KW - bio-inspiration

KW - engineering

KW - evolution

KW - gecko-inspired adhesives

KW - spider silk

KW - swarm intelligence

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85032883738&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1088/1748-3190/aa86ff

DO - 10.1088/1748-3190/aa86ff

M3 - Article

VL - 12

JO - Bioinspiration and Biomimetics

T2 - Bioinspiration and Biomimetics

JF - Bioinspiration and Biomimetics

SN - 1748-3182

IS - 5

M1 - 051001

ER -