This month, Horizon looks at the growing field of bio-inspired robotics to find out how nature is inspiring machine design. We investigate the surgical tools that mimic how octopus arms become flexible or stiff on demand, sensors based on the orientation ability of maggots, and marine robots inspired by lilypads, fish and mussels.
Animals have evolved sophisticated ways of processing sensory data to make sense of their surroundings. Now, robotics researchers are drawing inspiration from biological processes to improve the way machines handle information, perceive their surroundings, and react to stimuli.
Robotic arms inspired by the octopus could help doctors to perform new operations using keyhole surgery. By mimicking the octopus arm to transform from soft and flexible to stiff and rigid, these soft robotic tools could increase the scope for operations through small incisions.
The way we work is undergoing a major shift thanks to technological development and demographic change and, this month, Horizon looks at how research is helping us stay ahead of the game. We find out how decisions made early in your career could determine when you retire, and how to get the most out of the relationship between humans and machines in factories. We also investigate some of the ethical issues that could arise in the jobs of the future and how best to take them into account.
Even though we all spend about a third of our lives asleep, there's still plenty left for us to learn about the science of sleep. This month, Horizon looks at the importance of shuteye for our physical and mental health, and how sleep-deprived brains may be both awake and asleep at the same time. Plus, we investigate what exactly drives us to sleep and wake up, the effects of insomnia, and how the way our bodies use sleep to form memories is inspiring scientists to discover ways to improve our brains.
Mining isn’t the only way to extract valuable metals. Soon, they could increasingly be recovered from waste, reducing the need for new raw materials and helping Europe’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
The future of work is here – and it’s defined by flexibility, autonomy and pressure, according to Prof. Seán Ó Riain from Maynooth University, Ireland, who has been studying how workplaces have changed since 1995. He says we need to rethink public services to help people balance work and family in this new era.
Landfill trash is being turned into industrial treasure.
The 9 to 5 is in decline, presenting problems for work-family balance.
Sleep expert says that around 10 % of people are at risk of insomnia and it is genetically correlated with depression.