As engineers we have the tools and capabilities to improve the world around us. Yet we haven’t always got it right. Undoubtedly, we have learned more through failure than success. So too has nature, but over a much greater timescale.

Even the most amazing of engineering achievements are based on incremental experimentation and development. An F1 car for example, is a striking example of what engineers can do. However, each year’s car is often an evolution of the previous, rather than revolutionary in itself. What would happen if we relaxed the rules, and removed all pre-conceived notions of what the solutions should look like?

If we can find a way to encode the behaviours and mechanisms of nature in our design methodology, we will surely be encoding billions of years of lessons and growing unexpected solutions to all kinds of problems.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind whilst we embark on this journey, that nature itself is under pressure. Not because of its inability to adapt, as it will eventually do, but because as humans we are changing the environment at a pace which it can’t always keep up with. As we move from being “sculptors”, to “gardeners”, we must remember that when growing new machines and products, sustainability and sensitivity to our environment, can become part of the seed concept. In a sense, growth should only happen when it is sustainable.

Biohaviour is an exciting concept and could potentially change the future of engineering design.

Declan Nolan