A new gel that the inventors say you can play with like Silly Putty, can repair torn skin, bond implants, or act as an adhesive for underwater machinery. The invention, under development for several years, is now patent pending, and it's all thanks to the biomimicry of a mussel's byssus, the hair-size filaments that form a sticky foam enabling the mussel's fierce attachment to rocks, substrates, and beds on the sea walls and floors.
Josh Bongard is one member of a growing field called evolutionary robotics. In short, it means that stronger, more useful, more adaptable robots should develop their skills one step at a time, like animals and humans, rather than being built 'ready to go.' Bongard has experimented with his very literal biomimetic approach to robot upbringing in a first-of-its-kind experiment sponsored by the National Science Foundation.