Biomimicry student design challenge: transportation solutions

Biomimicry student design challenge: transportation solutions

Water strider image by: 2012books.lardbucket.org

Water strider image by: 2012books.lardbucket.org

The Biomimicry Institute yearly initiates student competitions generating interesting design proposals. I took the time to immerse myself into this competition to communicate this year’s challenge called: Forward Motion: Life changing transportation solutions. Last year, the competition involved water management and before that, energy efficiency.

As they start out this investigation on the website, question quotes:

“Can biomimicry help us address the deeper needs around transportation?”

Competition requests the design of transportation responsive to human needs, although cars are not included (this makes it more interesting). Here I quote the requisites they are looking for in the teams proposals:

Examine how nature facilitates effective, efficient transportation and apply a biomimicry design process to a transportation challenge that addresses one or both of the following needs:

  1. Make public transit, freight or individual transportation options (excluding cars), more responsive to user needs. This may include aspects of accessibility, security, comfort, flexibility, etc.
  2. Reduce the environmental impact of any form of transportation. This may include aspects of energy use, GHG emissions, urban heat island effects, material need/waste, pollution, and/or negative effects on biodiversity.

Unquestionably, there are so many organisms out there that can solve this question, but the task resides on us investigating and connecting with scientists, biologists and naturologists. This is a very interesting challenge for which I would’ve participated if I were studying and if you noticed the image on top of their website, you’ll see the hints provided for biomimicry targets: Water Striders Gerridae.

These insects are capable of moving around on top of water, actually row and bounce, because of their lightness of weight, length and hydrophobic paws which upon movement, creates multiple vortices aiding the propelling action. Here’s a video with insights on this insect.

Additionally you could think of Transportation as a system for the masses, as for how organisms network their colonies such as the organization of Termites and how the disposal of the unused materials pile up. Or thinking of ants and how they create those tunneling cities; if it works for them, could it work for us?

So there you go currently enrolled student, team up with your teachers and bring up the good work for this proposal! I will spoil around with more posts including transportation topics for more suggestions. Keep in touch with INmatteria and follow the blog! Also, find more information on Biomimicry books at INmatteria’s Bookshelf and any other suggestions on materials science, design and architecture.

Happy science-hunting!

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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.