Living processes are exciting research topics for car manufacturers in their perpetual quest for the innovations that will produce more ergonomic, safer and, most importantly, cleaner vehicles. Animals are an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Entomologists’ research allows us to envisage a future where, thanks to the abilities of certain insects, we will drive in vehicles that are self-cleaning or have a more efficient anti-collision device. And maybe one day the interactions between the autonomous vehicles of the future will imitate the behaviour of shoals of fish.
Jérôme Perrin, the Renault’s Scientific Director, explains how the French automotive group is innovating thanks to the living world.
When did Renault first take an interest in bio-inspiration, and what concrete forms does it take today?
Renault has been in contact with experts in bio-inspiration for several years. This has even resulted in a partnership with the European Centre of Excellence in Biomimicry (CEEBIOS) in Senlis, France, initiated in 2015. We started a thesis on bio-inspiration to study how to use a plug-in hybrid powertrain. We drew inspiration on cellular metabolism, which differs according to the physical efforts of athletes1.
In 2017, we launched a research project in collaboration with academic laboratories and the equipment manufacturer, Faurecia. The goal was to find innovative solutions to keep surfaces and passenger compartments cleaner. With the rise of self-service car-sharing and the possibility of taxi robots2, tomorrow’s vehicles will be faced with more problems of maintenance and quality of use than privately-owned vehicles. So, we came up with the idea of developing self-cleaning and self-repairable surfaces inspired by the superoleophobic cuticle that covers the body of the collembola, a very old small arthropod that inhabits dark and humid places.
And momentum is growing on a more global scale. Since 2017, the French Automotive Industry Platform has been bringing players in the French automotive industry created an exploratory working group on together to generate synergies in this field.