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Biomimicry to optimise automobile flows and integrate autonomous vehicles in the city

With more than 4 billion people living in the world's cities , urban mobility, whether private or public, represents a major challenge for our societies.

In the midst of a transformation, the sector is banking on autonomous vehicles because they hold the promise of better guiding and streamlining transport flows. It could prove to be an asset for relieving congestion on roads in urban areas.

However, a car of the future, however intelligent it may be, cannot optimise traffic on such a scale on its own. The creation of optimised and adaptive transport networks must be thought of on the macro scale, that of groups and flows of vehicles. Designers and urban planners must also provide a means of ensuring communication between “the built and the mobile”.


To this end, observing the organisation of the various networks present in nature offers certain advantages. Biomimicry helps to think about the mobility of the future!

Each ecosystem is built on complex interactions between thousands or even millions of species. The notion of flow was invented by nature as it is governed by mobility: energy flow, resource flow, waste flow, material flow, flow of individuals and flow of information. Everything is there !

Exchanges must take place in a sobriety essential to survival. Flows are therefore streamlined and optimised to the extreme. We find inter-species and intra-species flows, that is to say within the same organism or a super-organism such as a swarm or group of insects or certain plant species and fungi.

As flow management is optimised and proven in the living world, an innumerable number of methods and "best practices" can be used to think about the mobility of the future and optimise automobile networks.

Thanks to biomimicry, we can identify these principles of biological mobility to extrapolate them and inspire new innovations or new approaches for the automotive sector.

Bioxegy offers you an overview of already existing bio-inspired innovations to project yourself into nature’s know-how in this area.

Crédits image : © Siemens


The blob: an extra-terrestrial for thinking about the resilience of transport networks

Our urban networks are under permanent tension. Deliveries, transport of goods and transport of individuals: any anomaly can lead to extreme saturation situations. We have few redundancies, alternatives, or plan Bs if a main artery suffers an incident.
Not only are our networks not the most optimised, they are also not very resilient. Thanks to biomimicry, a source of progress could come from a very strange species, the slime mold.

Also called blob, this living species is difficult to classify. It's neither really a mushroom nor really a plant.

What is certain is that this unicellular organism feeds by spreading out and developping a large venous network.
These real supply routes ensure access to nutrients. The tree it builds is perfectly optimised for easy access to food points. The branches are also resilient to ensure a constant supply of nutrients.

The city of Montreal decided to call on the logistical expertise of the blob to guide the management of waste flows in one of its industrial zones.

The objective was to design rapid waste collection networks to transport them to treatment areas. The geographical tree obtained was more efficient and guaranteed a resilience rate of 50% in the event of disruption of one of the routes.

Transposed to the automobile, the blob's know-how would allow stakeholders to design more intelligent road networks in partnership with municipal authorities, and to integrate autonomous vehicles to improve traffic flow.

Capture d’écran 2019-08-13 à 18.08.39

Crédits images : ©Mathias Glaus, Mélina Maiorano et Robert Hausler ©Audrey Dussutour (CNRS)


Ants: optimise transfer flows and automobile travel

In congested cities, where motorists waste time, energy and fuel, routing technologies can offer alternatives or improve the situation.

Guidance technologies have become one of the best tools available to car manufacturers to provide their customers with optimised journeys, and therefore an improvement in their daily mobility. We seek to guarantee “smart”, fast and safe journeys.

Ants have the particularity of always following the quickest path between their nest and a food source. To do this, each time an individual spots a source of nutrients, it returns to the nest as quickly as possible by leaving pheromones, real chemical beacons, on its trail.

The ant that has found the shortest path between the food source and the colony will make more round trips and will therefore line its path more densely with pheromones. These will therefore attract conspecifics passing nearby. Thus, the shortest route is favoured while the others are gradually abandonned.

Emulating this principle thanks to an ACO (Ant Colony Optimisation) type algorithm, the Waze application transforms each of its users into an ant. By depositing virtual pheromones on the network, they influence the probability that other wazers will choose the same route or not depending on the current traffic state. The networks are optimised as a result.

Capture d’écran 2019-08-14 à 15

Crédits images : © Waze

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