Biomimetics (Oct 2018)

Biomechanics in Soft Mechanical Sensing: From Natural Case Studies to the Artificial World

  • Afroditi Astreinidi Blandin,
  • Irene Bernardeschi,
  • Lucia Beccai

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 3, no. 4
p. 32


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Living beings use mechanical interaction with the environment to gather essential cues for implementing necessary movements and actions. This process is mediated by biomechanics, primarily of the sensory structures, meaning that, at first, mechanical stimuli are morphologically computed. In the present paper, we select and review cases of specialized sensory organs for mechanical sensing—from both the animal and plant kingdoms—that distribute their intelligence in both structure and materials. A focus is set on biomechanical aspects, such as morphology and material characteristics of the selected sensory organs, and on how their sensing function is affected by them in natural environments. In this route, examples of artificial sensors that implement these principles are provided, and/or ways in which they can be translated artificially are suggested. Following a biomimetic approach, our aim is to make a step towards creating a toolbox with general tailoring principles, based on mechanical aspects tuned repeatedly in nature, such as orientation, shape, distribution, materials, and micromechanics. These should be used for a future methodical design of novel soft sensing systems for soft robotics.