The Japanese Shinkansen high speed train travels through the mountain landscape at over 300 km/h. When it dives into the numerous tunnels, this creates massive shockwaves.

Engineers working on the train turned to bird beaks as inspiration and ultimately landed on the kingfisher. This bird feeds on fish and dives beak-first into water without disturbing the surface. The engineers reshaped the front of the train according the kingfisher’s beak. This led to reductions in shockwaves and electric consumption, as well as higher speeds.

During their trip in the animal kingdom, the engineers also found inspiration in the feathers of an owl to reduce the sound of the pantograph, the device that connects the train to the overhead wires.

 

Photo credits: Surione Photography