Leonardo, biomimicry and bioinspiration

October 17, 2016

At the end of August I went down to London to see the exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci’s models and designs (www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/plan_your_visit/exhibitions/leonardo)


Very impressive, especially some of his flying machines – but they couldn’t possibly work, could they?

There alongside was an exhibition model of Festo Engineering’s “smartbird” which can be seen in action on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnR8fDW3Ilo.  Festo themselves have been actively pursuing biomimicry for many years and also creating an open innovation network – the Bionic Learning Network with a number of universities and design centres and companies.  This has inspired them to use the principles behind the mechanism in a bird’s beak to create a very efficient high-span, high strength gripper.

Less restrictive than mimicry is inspiration and hence to ‘bioinspired’ innovation – and for a map of the market-readiness of bioinspired  technologies see: www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/tapping-into-nature/#technologies.  And see www.pointloma.edu/experience/academics/centers-institutes/fermanian-business-economic-institute/forecasting-and-expert-commentary/da-vinci-index-b for the Da Vinci index aiming to track activity in bioinspiration.

A whole new domain to explore – and Leonardo was an early pioneer, even if he didn’t get any of his bioinspired designs to market.


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