Nature may be the greatest innovator, but humans are arguably the greatest imitators. In studying the unique abilities of different animals to jump, swim, fly, crawl, and slither, researchers have been able to build robots that can compete with, and sometimes even supersede, their living counterparts. Bio-inspired bots are a great example of how we can learn from nature to develop technology that can serve a whole new set of needs.

Bio-inspired bots are also a great example of how we learn iteratively; many scientists are learning from animals to create robots that are better equipped to learn about animal behavior. The last few years have seen an outpouring of such robots possessing a wide variety of abilities.

What are other examples of scientists learning from animals to make human lives better? What exciting opportunities come from our ability to improve upon nature, and what concerns you about this phenomenon? Add your thoughts to the ongoing discussion on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussion:

@03:20 Toland Lawrence:I think that examining and learning from nature in this way could potentially foster a greater appreciation for nature and the animal kingdom in the scientists that work on this project. But it could also just as easily further reinforce modern society's objectification of nature, which has led to the environmental issues we face today. I think it all depends on the intention of the researchers doing the work.

@03:52 Dallas Milanovich:Though it's pretty disgusting, this roach-inspired bot shows that sometimes even the worst kinds of animals can help us learn how to create better tools. There are a lot of animals I don't like very much, but even I have to acknowledge that snake-bots and insect-bots can probably help make our lives better in the long-run.