“Nature kapieren und kopieren” / “Comprehend and copy nature”
Viktor Schauberger, one of the most prominent environmentalists
and inventors of the 20th century
Before we dive in, I would like to draw your attention to one, very important concept. Since the dawn of time humans drew inspiration from nature which had millions of years to perfect its technology. Nowadays this tendency to “consult” plants and animals has become a science and received a name – biomimetics or biomimicry. Most interesting examples include:
Shinkansen train – the big inspiration when it comes to reducing the Japanese bullet train’s noise was the kingfisher’s beak and owl’s feathers.
Synthetic Gecko – it has been observed that gecko, unlike what was thought before, doesn’t use any glue or tiny suction cups to walk on the ceiling but rather millions
of tiny hair. Scientists have copied this mechanism to create a very sticky surface. One square meter of this material can hold up a family-sized car.
Airbus A380 – if the world’s biggest airliner capable of carrying up to 850 passengers had been built using conventional design methods it’s wingspan would have been
too long for the majority of airports. To lift such a giant the wings would have to be 83 meters long and the limit was 80 meters. Inspired by eagle feathers’ upward
curl Airbus engineers have devised a solution which shortened the wingspan to 79.8 meters. Airbus plans to incorporate more and more biomimicry and “bionic
constructions” into their future fleet.
Those solutions are not only innovation for innovation’s sake; they translate to huge earnings and savings for those companies. Boeing also incorporated winglets and
calculated that since their inception they have saved € 3.53 billion and reduced the carbon dioxide emission by almost 21.5 million tons. (source) Now let’s leave the air for Airbus and Boeing and take a closer look at the aquatic environment. Humans tried to copy fish fins and attach them unto human feet and they succeeded to a certain degree, though there are many differences and a long way to go to get even close to mimicking the wisdom of life. When it comes to semiaquatic creatures nature has equipped them with webbing between their fingers to allow for more efficient movement in water. By analogy we have created a synthetic membrane which is stretched between the two rails which serve the function of “fingers”. The idea here is to create an “exoskeleton” which would be as invisible and as natural extension of the diver’s legs as possible.