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Car Technology Inspired by Nature

Updated on July 23, 2015

Nature sometimes brings out the best in all of us, inspiring creations and inventions that could be based on a dolphin's nose all the way to the tiniest of spider eyes. The automotive industry takes quite a bit of inspiration from the animal kingdom with technology that is developed based on an animal's evolved advantages. While an animal takes thousands, if not millions of years to evolve into those desirable traits, car designers can study these traits and incorporate them into car technology in only a manner of a fear years. So what are some of the car technologies out there that are directly inspired by nature's creations?

Headlights are a very important component on all vehicles since they not only give the driver ample visibility at night, but also helps other drivers on the road see who else is occupying the same space. Headlight technology has evolved to the latest and greatest technology inspired by some of nature's smallest creations: the spider. Many people recoil at the thought of touching a spider, but the spider is actually quite an evolved creature. If you've seen those huge round saucer-shaped headlights on the Jeep Wrangler, you may notice that they greatly resemble the primary eyes on a spider! A spider's eyes can sense light intensity and detect polarized light so it's no wonder that the Jeep would be inspired by the spider. Many Jeep Wrangler owners take their vehicles off the beaten path to uncharted terrain so it's pretty self-explanatory that one would need exceptional lighting under these circumstances.

Another vehicle that is inspired by the spider's eyes is the Acura MDX. The 2014-up models have a unique set of LED headlights that they named "Jewel Eyes" that looks like the compound eyes on a spider. There are five LEDs on both sides of the grille that gives off a gorgeous white beam that does not use as much energy as halogen or HID headlights and lasts much longer. The three outer LEDs are for the low beams with high-end precision that's wider so that it won't blind oncoming cars. The two inner LED lights serve as high beams that can make it much easier to identify what's in front of the vehicle in a shorter amount of time. The total 10 LED lights even act as daytime running lights, so give the vehicle a cohesive, classy look.

Our feathered friends are also quite an inspiration in the automotive industry, as the toucan's bill is actually quite a sought after creation. The toucan is known for its humongous bill and it's definitely an evolutionary advantage since the bill is lightweight, yet undeniably strong. The toucan's bill is an inspiration for many automotive companies to develop car panels that are stronger and safer, yet lighter than their predecessor. These days, when the majority of the car is weighted down by mechanics, many car companies opt to build car panels that weigh less but remain practically indestructible.

Even exotic and concept cars take inspiration from the animal kingdom. The Mercedes Benz bionic car is directly inspired by the boxfish. The boxfish has a square-ish body complete with hexagonal plates and an extremely streamlined body despite its boxy appearance. The plates on the boxfish give the animal a suit of armor without adding too much weight, making the evolutionary advantage extremely effective. The Mercedes bionic car took note and created a concept car that was rigid, yet extremely aerodynamic. Mercedes Benz created what nature took millions of years to achieve, with a maximum strength capability while using fewer materials.

Even supercars are taking note of nature's creation and completely basing their car models solely on a singular animal. The McLaren P1 Hybrid supercar takes its design wholly from the sailfish that's revered to be extremely fast. The sailfish has small, minuscule scales that create vortices and cause the fish to be enveloped in air. The air bubble significantly reduces drag and allows the fish to swim faster. McLaren designed the P1 Hybrid to have a similar texture as the sailfish's scales that increases the amount of air entering the engine. This makes the supercar more efficient and aerodynamic.

Nature serves as probably the best inspiration for new technology as it has been practically confirmed by the species' survival that this is an evolutionary advantage that works. As automakers develop new technology, we can also expect a ton of specially designed car features that took note from Mother Nature.


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