World Finals 2022

Biomimicry: A good talking point or a buzzword?

It's been spoken about by teams frequently over the past few days. We take a deeper dive on biomimicry within F1 in Schools.

Jesse Stevens
13 July 2022
Biomimicry has been implemented by F1 in Schools teams for over a decade.Cold Fusion
Jesse Stevens
13 July 2022

During the 2022 World Finals, F1 in Schools teams had the opportunity to explain their technical innovations to the hosts of the stream (Tom and Amy). One of the words repeatedly mentioned by competitors Is biomimicry, which has been utilised to various effects across the competition.

What is biomimicry?

Biomimicry is the idea of observing how natural systems and structures solve complicated problems and implementing these natural solutions to man-made designs.

Natural systems often offer higher efficiency than man-made solutions, as they have been subject to large-scale refinement over time.

Examples of biomimicry in engineering are numerous and range from aerodynamics to loading mechanics of complex engineering projects.

For examples see here.

Biomimicry in F1 in Schools

Surprisingly, biomimicry has been around in F1 in Schools since early in the competition, with both the 2011 and 2012 World Champions (Pentagliders and Cold Fusion) utilising Biomimicry in earlier prototypes in an aerodynamic capacity.

Although CFD was less accurate in the competition a decade ago, the implementation of natural aerodynamic concepts often left a lot to be desired.

Biomimicry since then has continued to play a small part in world’s car development, with Team Zero’s aerodynamic ballast in 2016 the most visually striking example I could find.

Although showing a consistent but small presence in F1 in Schools aerodynamics, biomimicry itself does not offer an inherent advantage to teams competing.

As with most engineering solutions, the concept must match the required implementation, and for F1 in Schools aerodynamics, these are highly team specific.

Wheel Design

Over more recent years as manufacturing technology has become more accessible, biomimicry has begun to influence wheel system development.

This year, Axion’s wheel system designs were heavily influenced by natural solutions.

In one of their prototypes, they sought inspiration from the honeycomb structures in a bee's nest, and their final design prototype utilises a similar structure to the growing pattern of a sunflower.

I am led to believe that more utilisation of biomimicry in wheel system designs in the future will be tried and applied.

Jesse Stevens is an Australia correspondent. He was the Design Engineer for the F1 in Schools World Record Holders, Infinitude.