Scientists at National University of Singapore, Singapore, have created a underwater surveillance robot that uses a design principle called bio-mimicry—the submersible, deep-diving bot was designed like a turtle, complete with fore- and hind-limbs that imitate the reptile’s gait of diving/swimming. The design got rid of the ballasts submersible robots use for diving. This makes the turtle-bot much lighter and, therefore, easier to manoeuvre. Perfect for underwater stealth action like surveillance.
Bio-mimicry has now become one of the smartest design approaches in use. One need only recall the Iranian house shaped like a snail for optimal temperature regulation, or even the bottle inspired by the shape of the Namib desert beetle that was used to harvest water at one of the driest places on earth. Israeli military researchers, in 2012, designed a surveillance drone, equipped with a camera weighing 0.15 grams, that was shaped like a butterfly. The drone could accomplish a vertical take-off, much like a chopper, which allowed it to function in enclosed spaces.
At the time, it was only unmanned aerial vehicle that could do so. With these technologies, function defined form, much as it is in nature, where through years of evolution, each species has acquired a certain morphology. For new-age design, it seems, we will be increasingly turning to processes that have spanned millions of years!