Research Projects of the St.F.X. Biomechanics Laboratory

St. Frances Xavier University (Nova Scotia) is engaged in research on:

  • elastin, lamprin and myxinin (comparative study of non-collagen based carilages)
  • microfibrils and role in elasticity of arteries
  • abductin (provides passive but rapid and efficient opening of scallop shells)
  • swimming mechanisms of scallops and squid
  • fast-start performance of fish when escaping predators

Swarm-bots could boldly go where no man has gone before

An award-winning IST research team has developed highly unusual mini-robots, or swarm-bots, that work as a team to overcome challenges. While their cooperative behaviour is inspired by the actions of the tiny ant, their abilities could eventually take them to outer space.

Robots, the bizarre and the beautiful

“Nature is a rich source of design ideas,” notes Bruno Siciliano, robotics researcher and dissemination officer for EURON. “Nature has already solved a lot of the problems that robotics researchers encounter, so it is a good place to go for ideas.”

Peter Head: Entering an Ecological Age | Arup

"Drawing experience with projects such as Dongtan Eco-city in China, Peter Head’s Brunel International Lecture explained how we can develop and retrofit urban centres to improve resource efficiency while maintaining or improving quality of life. He used ecological footprint analysis to show how we can move towards the goal of environmental sustainability, setting out a vision of life in a sustainable community of the future."

Ralph L. Knowles: Architecture, Nature and Context

2012/02/23 added Additional Readings

This website contains a fascinating set of papers exploring how natural forces (sun, gravity, wind), rhythms and rituals can be creative elements in architectural design.  Although designing to a context is becoming increasingly popular, it is rare to see a body of work that is as well grounded on an understanding of natural forces and how they interact.   The papers suggest a number of different patterns that would be useful additions to an architect's toolkit. 

Interview with Julian Vincent

Susana Soares interviewed Julian Vincent, professor of Biomimetics at the University of Bath and director of Biomimetic and Natural Technologies.   The 11.5 minute video clip starts with a discussion about how to "get engineers to get back into biology" while retaining the value of building mechanisms and prototypes.  Although computer design is becoming popular, Vincent argues that computers "do what you tell them" while a prototype "might go out of control, with a bit of luck, and you learn something."  Rather than considering their designs as isolated from other systems, Vincent has suggested in Biomimetics: its practice and theory that even technical solutions are part of larger systems and need to take those system complexities into consideration.

MIT Ocean Engineering - RoboTuna

2008/10/20 updated with a comment pointing to a weblog entry with additional information about RoboTuna and complementary work by Prof. Joseph Ayers

ACADIA 2008: Silicon + Skin » Concepts of Nature and Technology / Biomimetics

2012/07/12: URL for this conference is no longer available - the post has been maintained since some of the papers below may be posted elsewhere

Six papers were presented in the Biomimetics track:

Stanford Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab/RiSE Project

The Robotics in Scansorial Environments (RSE) project "is a collaboration among researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, Lewis & Clark University and Boston Dynamics Inc. to develop an agile climbing robot based on principles gleaned from the study of climbing animals." 

Dr. Darren Bagnall (Southampton University)

"Dr. Darren Bagnall is a senior lecturer in Microelectronics in the Nanoscale Systems Integration Group of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton University.

With a team of three Post-Docs and eight PhD students, and a large numbers of project students, he is exploring a number of exciting nanotechnology themes, research is focused in five key areas:


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