Bar-Cohen, Y., & Breazeal, C., (2003). Biologically inspired intelligent robots.

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Nature as a biologically-inspiring model

Humans tend to imitate nature in their technology:

  • Birds’ beaks lead to tweezers
  • Some trees shape their seeds to have more aerodynamic structures, which lead to boomerangs, gliders, helicopter blades, etc.

Artificial muscles

Electroactive polymers (EAP) are known as artificial muscles. They have functional similarities to biological muscles, including resilience, damage tolerance, large actuator strains. EAP materials can be easily formed in various shapes, their properties can be engineered and they can be integrated with micro-electro-mechanical-system sensors to produce smart actuators. The materials developed so far still exhibit low conversion efficiency and are not robust.

Making robots actuated by EAP

EAP is easily produced in various shapes and configurations, which may lead to mass-produced robots in full 3D details. A possible vision for such technology: the fabrication of insect-like robots that fly and pack themselves into the packaging box to be ready for shipping. Or the capability of telepresence combined with virtual reality using haptic interfaces.

Designing sociable robots

Robots are no longer restricted to the factory floor or hazardous locales, but make their way into human environments. So robots will be more seen as a sociable partner. Robots that participate in rich human-style social exchange with people offer a number of advantages: communicating with them would not require additional training, it would be easier for people to teach robots new tasks.

Practical application of biologically inspired robots

More sophisticated and demanding fields, such as space science, are considering the use of biologically inspired robots. Such robots could potentially perform mobility in complex terrains, perform sample acquisition and analysis and many other functions.