What is the difference between biorobotics and biomimetics? I just spent three days at an international workshop on biorobotics in Nantes, France, and I found myself asking the question.

The obvious difference is that biorobotics concentrates on robots. But there is a more fundamental difference.

Bioroboticists develop robots by imitating animals. Brids, fish or even insects. Each new robot gives a new insight on the living organism. Each new robot explores what can be done with mechanics and electronics. It is fundamental research.

Biomimetics goes the other way round. It does not start with a living organism. It starts with a problem. Often an industrial problem. Then it explores what solutions exist in the natural world. When it finds something similar it will use it as a source of inspiration. It is a very practical problem solving technique.

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