The Optimal Bow Shoots for the Future [Exclusive]

It's Robin Hood meets Robocop, but IRL.

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Nov 11 2015, 2:20pm

Images courtesy the artist

With a brief hiatus between the invention of the gun and the establishment of non-lethal archery, humanity has spent the better part of the last 40,000 years or so in a race to invent the best bow possible. That quest ends now, thanks to a team using math to max out the weapon for good. Artist John Briscella's Aminimal Studio and Autodesk's Dreamcatcher team, which develops useful objects with generative design, have designed a tool Apollo, Legolas, and countless other yeoman bowmen would be proud to wield: The Optimal Bow - Tekina.

The sculptural recurve bow was designed by an algorithm to be sleek, powerful, and maximize weight and maneuverability. "Working with archers, I have been learning more about what is important to them in a bow," Briscella tells The Creators Project. After recently picking up a passion for the noble sport, he wanted to make an artwork that would envision its future. The team reverse-engineered the physics of archery, using math to best take advantage of the archer's hand placement and the bow's stress points. The idea, inspired by Coach James Clear's concept of marginal gains, was to improve many small areas by at least 1%, eventually adding up to real performance enhancement.

The V1 prototype, carved from aluminum by a CNC machine, looks like something ye olde Robocop would use, and can unleash 45+ pounds of pressure from each limb and screw. "The object should inspire to go out and shoot archery. The design also gives confidence that it is performing well by its mathematically constructed form." Briscella wants to put Tekina into the hands of an Olympic archer, which would give the team a valuable source of experience and input, while also validating their work. "Theoretically we would take the same dimensions and weights they're comfortable with and recalculate the form," he says. According to the Olympian's input, they could make a number of modifications, like substituting aluminum for titanium, or adjusting the hand placement. 

Check out Tekina in action below.

Learn more about how The Optimal Bow - Tekina was made on Instructables. See more of John Briscella's work on the Aminimal Studios website. Learn more about Dreamcatcher here.

The full Dreamcatcher team consists of: Gord Kurtenbach, Head of Research; Mark Davis, Design Research; George Fitzmaurice, User Interface; Francesco Ioriol, Computational Science Research; Azam Khan, Environment and Ergonomics; Larry Peck Bio/Nano Ryan Schmidt, Design and Fabrication; Jos Stam, Graphics and Simulation; Thomas White, Research Transfer.

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