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  Subtle Technologies: Using Biology to Inspire Engineering Design

James Andrew Smith's research in robotics with biomedical engineering focused on the positive and negative elements of using biomimetics to develop future technologies. 

Bullet train, Image Source: Rudy Herman

For instance, he hightlighted what we may think of as aesthetically streamlined, might not be the best solution for a problem using the 500-series Shinkansen bullet train as an example. Originally, these trains looked much more streamlined, however, many people complained about the so called 'tunnel boom' as trains enters tunnels at high speed. By giving these train a "beak-like" shape, engineers were able to reduce this noise. Inspiration was derived from two animals: the plumage and the feathers of the owl are known as ‘saw-toothed wave feathers’.

In his own work and research, he developed the world's first galloping robots, the PAW galloper, taking inspiration from dogs.

One of interesting discussions towards the end was why robotics'  aesthetics tends to be focused around specific attributes and animals typically streamlined, sleek and fast with names like cheetah etc. - and whether this was a result of actual advantages in functional design or if this reflect a typical male-oriented aesthetics.

 
http://subtletechnologies.com/events/festival-2012/symposium/usin...
 
Other References: C-LAB:blog: Broad Vision: Exhibition Private View
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: A conversation with Alondra Nelson, Heidi McKenzie and Jeff Thomas
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Art from Synthetic Biology / The Sensorial Invisibility of Plants
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: BIOART - Art from the Laboratory
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Broadvision: the art & science of looking
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Bullet and the Biohack - Animating and Repurposing Dead Organs
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Cc: me
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Cellular Performance
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Consciousness | Symbiosis State Project
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Exploratory soundscapes of arterial flow
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Henrietta Lacks in Text and Context
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Motion Studies
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Poster Exhibition - Common Ground
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Primate Cinema: Apes as family
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Proposal for resuscitating prehistoric lives
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Public dialogue on EXPERIMENTS
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Screening of Momentum – Rachel Armstrong
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Sensing between the lines
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Speed Networking
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Using Biology to Inspire Engineering Design
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Using MRI and drawing as maps to heal my frozen shoulder
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Weak measurements, strong insights, and the double-slit experiment
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Workshop - The Physarum Experiments
C-LAB:blog: Subtle Technologies: Youtube: from stick figures to string theory
C-LAB:event: SUBTLE TECHNOLOGIES
 
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