Humans lack these stabilizers, which causes us to suffer whiplash upon a hard hit to the head and contributes to brain damage. If the technology is adopted and refined by schools and professional organizations, it could even save lives.
From Woodpeckers to Helmets - Cherry Lake Publishing
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Anirudha Surabhi, inspired by a minor bike accident that still left him with a cracked helmet and a concussion, decided to design the Kranium bike helmet for his senior project at the Royal College of Art. The key feature Surabhi wanted to copy from these resilient birds is the spongy bone that surrounds a woodpecker's brain.
Helmet Inspired by Woodpecker May Revolutionize Bike Safety
The region is made of trabeculae—small, beamlike bone structures that weave together into a sort of shock-absorbing scaffolding. Such structures are also present in smaller quantities within the beak, which keep it from pummeling the skull with the full force of hitting the tree. In looking for a way to reproduce the spongy trabeculae of a woodpecker skull for the bike helmet's lining, he built prototypes from different materials.
He then smashed, crush, and pummeled the helmets prototypes in a homemade rig he built from an accelerometer and a plaster head, using an Arduino to record and interpret data.
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The winner, to Surabhi's surprise, was cardboard. To use it in his bike helmet, he treats the material with a waterproofing agent to protect against rain and sweat and mimics the structure of woodpeck trabeculae by building a honeycomb structure.
In an interview with the BBC , Surabhi said that the structure isn't exactly the same: Woodpecker cartilage has similar air pockets and spaces, but they're distributed in a way that's too complex for mass production. Like the cartilage, the air-pockets in the laser-cut ribs of cardboard collapse under force, which absorbs most of the impact of a crash.
Lab tests show that the liner absorbs three times as much force as traditional polystyrene helmet liners.
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