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.
It's been 15 years since the euro came into circulation and to mark the occasion Horizon is looking at what the future could have in store for finance. We talk to one economist who says the way to avoid another crisis is to keep banks small and boring, and we explore the effect of alternative local currencies on supporting small businesses. We also delve into some of the technology that could enable us to move to a cashless society, and we look at the growth of the so-called sharing economy, in which people share access to resources.
This December marks one year on from the Paris agreement, where world governments agreed to keep global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius of the average pre-industrial temperature. To mark the occasion, Horizon takes stock of the situation and examines the challenges ahead. We speak to scientists who are mapping a pathway for governments to cut back on emissions, we host a debate on steel - one of Europe’s most polluting industries, and we look the progress of carbon capture and storage. We also interview Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Institute in Germany, who was the first to propose that 2 degrees should be set as a limit for global warming.
In the province of Limburg, in northeastern Belgium, residents earn points by helping out in the community which they can spend on cinema tickets or trips to the local swimming pool.
The increase is partly driven by climate challenges.
Neuroimaging techniques are helping us read the pictures in our heads.
There is unlimited kinetic energy all around us and harnessing it could change the way we interact with the world, says Dr Gonzalo Murillo.