Biomimetics, new paradigms for (space) robot design
By Carlo Menon
The success of biological organisms in solving problems encountered in their environments is attributed to the process of natural selection, whose primary metric is survival. Such biological solutions offer insights into alternative strategies for designing engineering robotic systems. Looking at nature, engineers can find a huge database of biologically-inspired solutions to problems. There is thus much that engineers can learn from biology and emulate in their design of engineering systems – this discipline is called ‘biomimetics’. Biomimetics involves ‘reverse engineering’ the principles of evolutionary design of biological organisms in order to implement biological solutions to general engineering problems. The problems encountered by biological systems are similar in many respects to those encountered in engineered systems. It seems appropriate therefore to examine biological solutions in order to analyse engineering issues. Research efforts in this direction have recently become significant in interdisciplinary-engineering areas as robotics. In this talk, motivation and potential benefits of a bio-inspired approach are addressed and the first attempts to define a new biomimetic methodology for robotic design are investigated through the analysis of novel bio-inspired space robotic projects.
Carlo Menon graduated in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Padova (Italy). He then received a Ph.D. degree in “Space Science and Technology” at the interdepartmental Center of Studies and Activities for Space G.Colombo (Padova, Italy) defending a thesis on “Robotics and Mechanisms for Space Exploration”. He spent part of his PhD in The Netherlands working for the YES2 mission and in USA researching at the Nanorobotics Laboratory of Carnegie Mellon University. In 2005 and 2006 he was a Research Fellow in Biomimetics at the Advanced Concepts Team (ACT) of the European Space Agency (ESA), The Netherlands, and proposed and led international biomimetic space robotic projects. Since January 2007 he has been an Assistant Professor in Robotics and Biomimetics at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. He has particular interest in space and biomedical engineering and his research mainly focuses on mechanism design, dynamics, mechatronics, micro-technology, and control. He is an AIAA, IEEE, and ASME fellow.
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