Biomimetics for Innovation and Design Laboratory


Biomimetic Design
Biomimetic design uses biological models to solve engineering problems. Biological phenomena provide an abundant source of inspiration for design, including novel models for process optimization and ideas for sustainable production practices.

BIDLab Rationale
In the past, biologically inspired design has mostly relied on personal or chance knowledge and observation of biology to inspire design. As many engineers may not know the most relevant biological phenomena for any given design problem, a systematic method of accessing biological knowledge is required. Our approach is to search the vast amount of biological knowledge already in natural-language format.

Current research aims to optimize the process of identifying and using the most relevant biological phenomena for any given design problem, and can be categorized as:

Searching for analogous biological phenomena can result in an overwhelming number of matches, both relevant and irrelevant. Language analysis is currently used to both improve the quality of matches and reduce the quantity of information that a designer must process by summarizing relevant information. A methodology for finding useful electronic biology resources for a biomimetic search was developed.

Past work has shown that images help novices understand material in a new knowledge domain. Illustrations can simplify complex information and clarify abstract concepts to aid in comprehension and visualization. Images are more effective than text in describing spatial relationships. Improved understanding enables better application of biological concepts in design.

Analogical reasoning is the creation of new knowledge via similarities from a domain that is already understood. A key challenge associated with analogical reasoning applied to biomimetic design is the extraction of strategies from biological phenomena relevant to the design problem. Current work investigates factors affecting the transfer of analogies including salience and visibility, as well as the practical implications of biological information presentation.

Case Studies
Protection from lunar regolith - how to protect an optical equipment from lunar regolith during lunar exploration.
Sensing in nature
Design for remanufacture - how to design parts that can be easily repaired as well as manufactured
Centering in microassembly - how to center microobjects in microgrippers
Packaging - how to efficiently pack oddly-shaped items.

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