Snakeskin: A design breakthrough for robots and race cars?

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

Even though a snake’s skin is dry as a bone, we often think of it as wet and slick. There’s a good reason for that — the animals have evolved a coating of scales that helps them slide seemingly without effort across any surface.

Nature’s design is actually more complex than just making a supersmooth skin, though: Each scale overlaps the one behind it to diminish friction in the forward direction while creating enough on the rear of the scale to let the snake propel forward. Each scale is also built to maximize resistance against wear.

Expert friction control and durability make snake and lizard skin very interesting to engineers who want to build those characteristics into machines.

Eventually, replica reptile materials could find a use in high-end automotive engineering, such as Formula One racecars, or in the coming generation of search-and-rescue and exploration robots modeled off snakes.

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