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.
Rare diseases are uncommon, but there are still thousands of different conditions which together affect between 27-36 million people in the EU. This month, Horizon examines the latest efforts to tackle rare diseases as well as new technology to better diagnose uncommon conditions and novel ways to reduce the socioeconomic burden of unusual disorders.
This July, Horizon goes on an investigation to find the latest in how science can catch the bad guys, from recreating crime scenes in virtual reality to hidden cameras that turn on when they spot crime in rural areas. Plus we hear how looking at organised crime could help track down terrorists, and how to keep your information safe, such as through a phone that could recognise the way you swipe.
Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk fear that the robotic revolution may already be underway, but automation isn’t going to take over just yet – first machines will work alongside us.
Future human labourers could wear sensors that talk to their robot co-workers.
A digital personal assistant plans to help migrants integrate.
Better treatments are needed to help those suffering from rare diseases, says Dr Daria Julkowska.