Beetles haven’t done much for mankind (don’t think we didn’t notice you scuttling about selfishly) but all that may be about to change thanks to Australian designer Edward Linacre. He studied the Namib beetle which lives in one of the driest places on earth and used its survival mechanism as the inspiration for Airdrop – a self-powered device to irrigate crops which extracts water molecules from the air. Today the Melbourne student was given the James Dyson Award which sets the brief: “Design something that solves a problem.”
Edward will get £10,000 to help roll out the project and a further £10,000 goes to the Swinburne University of Technology where he studies.
Sir James Dyson said: “Biomimicry is a powerful weapon in an engineer’s armoury. Airdrop shows how simple, natural principles like the condensation of water, can be applied to good effect through skilled design and robust engineering. Young designers and engineers like Edward will develop the simple, effective technology of the future – they will tackle the world’s biggest problems and improve lives in the process.”
The runners-up were RCA student Michael Korn’s Kwick Screen, a portable, retractable room divider for use in hospitals, Se Lui Chew’s device to help blind people find friends in unfamiliar surroundings using social media and mobile technology, and Michael Prywata’s Amo Arm, designed to help amputees avoid re-innervation surgery, was highly commended.