The Bionic Learning Network: Technology That Mimics Nature

The latest TED talk feels a few years ahead of its time. Featuring Markus Fischer, the head of corporate design for German tech company Festo, the video shows what appears to be a sort of stiff seagull flying around the conference hall, swooping down on audience members and eliciting endless ooo's and ahh's. It's kind of like those bald eagle shows at theme parks except for one glaring difference. Festo's bird is actually a lightweight robot.

Fischer's invention is called the SmartBird, and it's modelled after the herring gull. SmartBird is the centerpiece of a broader project to build technology that mimics nature. Futuristically named the Bionic Learning Network, the project is a collaboration between Festo and universities that's so far built six different robotic animals. For the most part, Fischer says, the arduous process of mimicking nature in robotics helps him and other designers think up ways to build lighter weight, more elegant machines. Once built, the animals themselves are sort of just for show.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.

Presented by

The Atlantic Wire is your authoritative guide to the news and ideas that matter most right now.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Technology

Just In