In this article, we examine the potential for using artificial intelligence (AI) to design a hypothetical aircraft called a "Spidercopter." We aim to explore the use of AI tools for both idea generation and design creation in order to better understand how the workflow for such projects should be structured and to identify the appropriate, necessary, or meaningful points for human intervention.
To achieve these goals, we will use generative AI techniques to generate ideas for the Spidercopter design. This may involve using text-based AI tools, including chatGPT to create prompts and image-based AI tools, such as DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, and Midjourney to generate visual designs.
As we work through the design process, we will consider the role that human input and oversight should play in order to ensure that the final product is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Overall, our goal is to demonstrate the potential for AI to support the creative process and to provide insights into how human and machine intelligence can work together to achieve innovative results.
A Google search for "Spidercoper," "Spider copter," and "spider inspired helicopter" using primarily returned results related to toys inspired by Marvel's Spider-Man franchise. Examples include a Spider-Man themed gadget called the "Spider-Copter" and a Lego playset featuring a spider-inspired helicopter. A patent search also yielded few existing concepts related to this topic. The only reference we could find was a helicopter with insect-inspired landing gear that was part of a project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) which is show in the below video.
Given the limited references to concepts like a spider-inspired helicopter, it is likely that any ideas generated by artificial intelligence (AI) in this area would be both novel and challenging to produce as it would require a significant number of iterations and a thorough exploration of the design space.
In order to showcase the maximal potential of AI in this context, we decided to use chatGPT, a text-based AI tool, to generate prompts for our design process. We asked chatGPT to "create a DALL-E prompt to create a realistic image of a helicopter inspired by a spider." At the time this request was made, in January 2023, chatGPT was not aware of "Stable Diffusion" or "Midjourney."
The first prompt generated was "Create a helicopter that looks like a spider, with multiple legs for landing gear and a body that resembles a spider's abdomen. The helicopter should be depicted in a realistic manner, with intricate detailing and shading to give the impression of a living, mechanical spider." This prompt when used with Midjourney, created the following designs.
Next, we used the same prompt with Stable Diffusion. Only a small fraction of the concepts generated using this prompt appeared promising. We continued the concept generation process till 100 potentially usable designs were obtained. Of these, the top 20 designs are shown below.
The second prompt used was, "Create an image of a helicopter with a body and legs like a spider, with the ability to crawl and move like a spider on the ground as well as fly through the air." This prompt generated the four concepts below when we used Midjourney.
Similarly, we used Stable Diffusion to generate 100 potentially usable designs using the second promt. Of these, the following are the top 20 designs.
The third and final prompt was, "Create an image of a helicopter with a body and rotor blades inspired by a spider, including spider-like legs and eyes on the front of the cockpit."
The third prompt was used to generate several hundred concepts, of which we selected 100 promising concepts. Of these, the following are the top 20 designs.
From the top 60 designs (20 using each prompt) obtained, we selected the top 12 designs that we felt possessed interesting visual features and novel functional characteristics.
Spidercopter Top Design #12: The Sealion
Spidercopter Top Design #11: The Groundsman
Spidercopter Top Design #10: The Sleeking
Spidercopter Top Design #9: The Radiobug
Spidercopter Top Design #8: The Whirlgig
Spidercopter Top Design #7: The Raptore
Spidercopter Top Design #6: The Silkent
Spidercopter Top Design #5: The Towerist
Spidercopter Top Design #4: The Glendale
Spidercopter Top Design #3: The Wingspaniel
Spidercopter Top Design #2: The Cheliops
Spidercopter Top Design #1: The Arachnel
This post is part of a series of articles on the use of generative AI for bioinspired product ideation. The use of AI for product concept generation allows for the quick creation of many potentially novel designs, which could then be evaluated and refined to select the most promising concepts to move to the next stage of the product development process.