3600 Principles of Bionics

Foundations of the Field

3600 Principles of Bionics

Module Name Principles of Bionics
Module Code 3600
Semester Summer
Module Coordinator Prof Dr William Megill
Lecturer Prof Dr Lily Chambers
Language English
Place in Curriculum Common Core Subject
Timetabled Hours
  • Lectures        2 HPW
  • Laboratories  1 HPW
  • 45h Attendance
  • 75h Preparation & Review
  • 30h Report Preparation
Credits 5
Recommended Prerequisites  
Module Objectives

Students know the underlying principles of the developing field of bionics / biomimetics, including recent VDI guidelines that shape the field in Germany. They can tell the difference between biomimetic engineering design and marketing storytelling. They know the steps in a technical development process. They understand the importance of communication and interdisciplinary collaboration in the success of design projects. They are able to make use oftools to identify a customer’s requirements, and of other tools to develop new ideas and potentials. At the end of the course, the students should be able to apply biomimetic design rules to development projects.

Students have internalised an inventory of biological case studies (archetypes) which are the basis for modern biomimetic design. They will have acquired knowledge and techniques to understand and classify movement processes in biology so that these can be transferred to a technical context.


Brief history of bionics/biomimetics

What's in a word - bionics/biomimetics/bioinspiration - finding a title for an interdisciplinary field.

Mythbusters, bionics and philosophy: What is biomimetic, and what isn’t; Convergent evolution in biology and technology; bionics as a marketing tool; Nature isn’t always best; contrasts in philosophies & approaches of engineering and biology; communication in interdisciplinarity.

Biomimetic Product Design: Review of engineering design; bionics and the German norm: VDI 2220; Creativity tools including TRIZ/BioTRIZ, ontologies;

Case Studies in Bionics of Locomotion: Biomimetic principles will be developed starting from animal examples and leading to novel machine implementations. Locomotion in fluids; drag, propulsion and lift; efficient & tuned body design; fluid-structure interaction; scaling principles; great flight diagram; terrestrial locomotion; importance of resonance and timing; Alongside the technical applications and animal examples, the underlying physics will be taught, specifically mechanics, fluid dynamics and energy use. Traditional wheel-based robots will be contrasted against biological models.

Assessment Written Examination and Laborator Reports
Forms of Media Whiteboard, Powerpoint, Projector, Laboratories
  • Course materials from the lecturer
  • Exercises from the lecturer
  • Journals:
    • Bioinspiration & Biomimetics
    • Journal of Bionic Engineering
    • Journal of experimental Biology
  • Further Reading:
    • BK Ahlborn – Zoological Physics. Springer.
    • Y . Bar-Cohen. Biomimetics Biologically Inspired Technologies. CRC Press, 2006, ISBN: 978-0-8493-3163-3