Discovering Living Machines

The Fifth International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems was held in Edinburgh, Scotland (UK), July 19th to 22nd, 2016.

POSTER LM2016_cropThis follows the 4 editions of the Living Machines conference that were held in Barcelona in 2012, London in 2013, Milan in 2014 and in Barcelona again in 2015. These international conferences are targeted at the intersection of research on novel life-like technologies based on the scientific investigation of biological systems, or biomimetics, and research that seeks to interface biological and artificial systems to create biohybrid systems.

The aim of the conference is to highlight the most exciting international research in both of these fields united by the theme of “Living Machines”. This year Living Machines took place in Edinburgh, at Dynamic Earth, a venue that reminds us how much our community has developed and continues to evolve and grow.

The spirit of the conference is more than just practicing biomimetics and/or biohybridity in isolation to engineer new technologies – it is equally about using natural design principles to extend our understanding of the natural world, and of our place in it.

Victoria Webster. CWRU

Biohybrid Robot @LM2016. Victoria Webster. CWRU

Living Machines promotes the idea that in order to build novel advanced artifacts, such as robots, we need to understand, not only mimic, nature and life and base new technologies on the same fundamental principles. This idea also dominated the interest and curiosity of one of the greatest geniuses of the renaissance, Leonardo Da Vinci, who was the first to establish a synergy between fundamental science and engineering or in his own words:

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

 The conference kicks off with 1 day Workshops event on July 19th hosted at the School of Informatics of University of Edinburgh. The workshops discussed the following themes:

LM2016 Workshops Edinburgh, UK

  • Our Future with Living Machines: Societal, Economic, and Ecological Impacts.
  • Living machines that grow, evolve, self-heal, and develop: how robots adapt their morphology to the environment.
  • Teaching Practices in Biologically Informed Design.
  • The Emergence of Biological Architecture.

The main conference, together with the poster and demo sessions, was hosted at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, Scotland and takes the form of a three- day single-track programme (20 -22 July) including 20 oral, 10 poster spotlight and 41 poster presentations together with 5 plenary lectures from leading international researchers in biomimetic and biohybrid systems.

The main lectures were held by

LM2016 Barbara Webb

  • Barbara Webb University of Edinburgh, UK. “Ant navigation: lessons for, and from, robots”
  • Thomas Speck University of Freiburg, DE. “Biomimetic Materials: Smart and Multifunctional Solutions for Technical Challenges of the 21st Century”
  • Antonio Bicchi, Italian Institute of Technology IIT, Italy. “On the Soft Synergy Model and Its Applications to Artificial Hands”.
  • Frank Hirth College London, UK. “Action selection is a neural mechanism whereby behavioural repertoires compete for control of a finite set of motor resources”.
  • Yoshihiko Nakamura University of Tokio, Japan. “Computer simulation of the human wholebody neuromuscular system is a grand challenge of supercomputing”.

LM2016 posters_demosSession themes included: Biomimetic Technologies, Neuromimetics, Animal inspired robotics.

A demo session highlighted models of biomimetic robots including; examples of crawling, walking and swimming robots; a robotic platform for cerebellar function and others.

The 5th edition of the Living Machines conference series is organized in collaboration with CSNetwork EU-FET, Heriot Watt University, University of Edinburgh, Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, Sheffield University, IOP Science Journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, Santander Bank, Wiley.

Living Machines international conference on biomimetic and biohybrid systems

Attending Living Machines 2016. Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, UK. @CSN_eu

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