Bioinspired Design Paradigm


‌Biological inspiration is a key design approach for the development of innovative robots. Flapping wings, sensitised robotic skins, insect inspired compound eyes and artificial muscles are examples of nature acting as a source of inspiration for the design of novel artificial systems. The heart of successful bioinspired design is the abstraction of the underlying physical principles found in biology and their implementation in robotics using state of the art technology. In addition, developing bioinspired robots can help understand biological systems in more detail by being able to test different hypothesis about the physiology and behaviour of the living beings studied.

Butterfly-inspired Micro-gliders


An example of this approach is the development of flying micro-gliders inspired by butterfly wings. Certain species of butterflies use a combination of flapping and gliding in order to migrate long distances more efficiently. One of the most famous to do this is the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), pictured above. The wing shapes for the Monarch and other species have been studied for their aerodynamic properties. The butterflies have been found to be able to change the position of their wings to adapt their performance to different flight regimes. These studies are of great use in the design of robots which fly in similar regimes.


Lead Researchers

Alejandro Ortega Ancel

Robert Siddall

Raphael Zufferey

Talib Alhinai



  • Aerodynamic evaluation of wing shape and wing orientation in four butterfly species using numerical simulations and a low-speed wind tunnel, and its implications for the design of flying micro-robots
    Alejandro Ortega, Rodney Eastwood, Daniel Vogt, Carter Ithier, Michael Smith, Robert Wood and Mirko Kovač
    Royal Society Interface Focus, 2016. To appear. 

  • Launching the AquaMAV: bioinspired design for aerial–aquatic robotic platforms
    Robert Siddall and Mirko Kovac
     Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 1-15, 2014.




Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)