Biomimicry in design is the process of seeing what nature does really well and then emulating that in an engineered solution. NASA’s BIDARA uses ChatGPT to guide you through the process.
A lot of the products that we take for granted were created by engineers who were inspired by nature. The most famous example is of Swiss engineer George de Mestral who designed Velcro after being inspired by the burrs he struggled to pull from his dog’s fur.
Taking a structured but creative approach to biomimicry can be challenging when you consider the vast amount of biological data available.
NASA developed its Bio-Inspired Design and Research Assistant (BIDARA) to help guide engineers through the Biomimicry Institute’s design process.
The process is broken up into 5 steps:
- Define the problem – What challenge are you looking to address?
- Biologize the challenge – What is the equivalent of this challenge in nature?
- Discover natural models – What examples in nature have overcome the challenge?
- Abstract the design strategies – What are the general principles that can be learned from these natural models?
- Emulate nature’s lessons – How can you apply these principles to your design?
Previously if you wanted to get AI to guide you through this process you’d need to apply to NASA to use their BIDARA chatbot. But NASA has now released the BIDARA SuperPrompt that you can use in your own ChatGPT chat.
The prompt is huge so I won’t paste it here but you can copy it from the GitHub repository.
BIDARA is a great example of how providing context and explaining the role you want an AI chatbot to perform can deliver better results.
It also demonstrates how a tool like ChatGPT can help guide a user’s thinking process to discover a solution that they may not otherwise have arrived at.
“I think the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning.”—Steve Jobs
With the NASA BIDARA ChatGPT SuperPrompt you may just start this new era.
— Brian Roemmele (@BrianRoemmele) November 1, 2023
The Periodic Table of Life
BIDARA is complementary to NASA’s Periodic Table of Life (PeTaL) open source platform. PeTaL uses AI “to aid in the systematic inquiry of biology for its application to human systems.”
The platform allows users to access a database of information on a wide range of organisms, from bacteria to plants and animals. It also enables visualization and analysis of biological data in a variety of ways.
PeTaL could revolutionize the way that we draw inspiration from nature to engineer new materials, energy sources, medicines, or even agricultural methods.
Artificial intelligence may or may not turn out to be the panacea that many hope for. But AI tools like BIDARA and PeTaL could help us find bio-inspired solutions to some of our biggest challenges.