Isn’t it fascinating to know that nature is the prime factor for a variety of innovations happening around us.  Being a source for a plethora of fascinating designs and structures nature inspires humans to bring out innovation.


When researchers have been looking for a flexible and resilient design for the betterment of robotic arm, they had a challenge as to How to make a robot safe when working around “soft” humans, such as when a bot assists a physician during surgery or hands off a tool to a factory worker?

Sea horse Robotic arm

When they had been looking as the requirement in the nature they had zeroed in on the tails of the Seahorses. “The tail is the seahorse’s lifeline” because it allows the animal to anchor itself to corals or seaweed and hide from predators. The seahorse’s tail protects it from its main predators — wading birds, crabs and turtles, which all are capable of delivering crushing bites — by enabling the seahorse to lock onto plants such as seaweed. Michael Porter was the only  person who had seen at its tail as a source of armor for their problem.

The feature of the seahorse tail that makes it fascinating is that it has square plates which make it stiffer, stronger and even resistant to strain all at the same time. The tail of a seahorse can be compressed to about half its size before permanent damage occurs and this flexibility is due to its structure, made up of bony, armored plates that slide past each other.

Researchers took segments from seahorses’ tails and compressed them from different angles. They found that the tail could be compressed by nearly 50 per cent of its original width before permanent damage occurred. That’s because the connective tissue between the tail’s bony plates and the tail muscles bore most of the load from the displacement. Even when the tail was compressed by as much as 60 per cent, the seahorse’s spinal column was protected from permanent damage. After treating the bony plates in the seahorse’s tail with the chemicals, they discovered that the percentage of minerals in the plates was relatively low – 40 per cent, compared to 65 per cent in cow bone. The plates also contained 27 per cent organic compounds – mostly proteins – and 33 per cent water. The hardness of the plates varied; the ridges were hardest, likely for impact protection—about 40 per cent harder than the plate’s grooves, which are porous and absorb energy from impacts.

sea horse

The seahorse’s tail is typically made up of 36 square-like segments, each composed of four L-shaped corner plates that progressively decrease in size along the length of the tail. Plates are free to glide or pivot; gliding joints allow the bony plates to glide past one another and the pivoting joints are similar to a ball-and-socket joint, with three degrees of rotational freedom. This makes it very suitable for our requirement. But still further research is going on in this as to further improve the shape from square to round and try out the other operation on it.

From this inspiration the hybrid robotic arm of soft and hard robotic arm has been engineered for the industrial use and medical field. In medical fields it is been a great aid to dentists especially while performing delicate operations

This is the Bio-Mimicry involved in it.

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