Robohub.org
 

Elowan: A plant-robot hybrid

by
09 December 2018



share this:

Elowan Images (Credit: Harpreet Sareen. License: CC-BY 4.0)

Elowan is a cybernetic lifeform, a plant in direct dialogue with a machine. Using its own internal electrical signals, the plant is interfaced with a robotic extension that drives it toward light.

Plants are electrically active systems. They get bio-electrochemically excited and conduct these signals between tissues and organs. Such electrical signals are produced in response to changes in light, gravity, mechanical stimulation, temperature, wounding, and other environmental conditions.

The enduring evolutionary processes change the traits of an organism based on its fitness in the environment. In recent history, humans domesticated certain plants, selecting the desired species based on specific traits. A few became house plants, while others were made fit for agricultural practice. From natural habitats to micro-climates, the environments for these plants have significantly altered. As humans, we rely on technological augmentations to tune our fitness to the environment. However, the acceleration of evolution through technology needs to move from a human-centric to a holistic, nature-centric view.

Elowan is an attempt to demonstrate what augmentation of nature could mean. Elowan’s robotic base is a new symbiotic association with a plant. The agency of movement rests with the plant based on its own bio-electrochemical signals, the language interfaced here with the artificial world.

These in turn trigger physiological variations such as elongation growth, respiration, and moisture absorption. In this experimental setup, electrodes are inserted into the regions of interest (stems and ground, leaf and ground). The weak signals are then amplified and sent to the robot to trigger movements to respective directions.

Such symbiotic interplay with the artificial could be extended further with exogenous extensions that provide nutrition, growth frameworks, and new defense mechanisms.

About Cyborg Botany
Cyborg Botany is a new, convergent view of interaction design in nature. Our primary means of sensing and display interactions in the environment are through our artificial electronics. However, there are a plethora of such capabilities that already exist in nature. Plants, for example, are active signal networks that are self-powered, self-fabricating, and self-regenerating systems at scale. They have the best kind of capabilities that an electronic device could carry. Instead of building completely discrete systems, the new paradigm points toward using the capabilities that exist in plants (and nature at large) and creating hybrids with our digital world.

Elowan, the robot plant hybrid, is one in a series of such of plant-electronic hybrid experiments.

Project Members:
Harpreet Sareen, Pattie Maes
Credits: Elbert Tiao (Graphics/Video), California Academy of Sciences (Leaf travel video clip)




MIT Media Lab





Related posts :



Open Robotics Launches the Open Source Robotics Alliance

The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) is pleased to announce the creation of the Open Source Robotics Alliance (OSRA), a new initiative to strengthen the governance of our open-source robotics so...

Robot Talk Episode 77 – Patricia Shaw

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Patricia Shaw from Aberystwyth University all about home assistance robots, and robot learning and development.
18 March 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 64 – Rav Chunilal

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Rav Chunilal from Sellafield all about robotics and AI for nuclear decommissioning.
31 December 2023, by

AI holidays 2023

Thanks to those that sent and suggested AI and robotics-themed holiday videos, images, and stories. Here’s a sample to get you into the spirit this season....
31 December 2023, by and

Faced with dwindling bee colonies, scientists are arming queens with robots and smart hives

By Farshad Arvin, Martin Stefanec, and Tomas Krajnik Be it the news or the dwindling number of creatures hitting your windscreens, it will not have evaded you that the insect world in bad shape. ...
31 December 2023, by

Robot Talk Episode 63 – Ayse Kucukyilmaz

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Ayse Kucukyilmaz from the University of Nottingham about collaboration, conflict and failure in human-robot interactions.
31 December 2023, by





Robohub is supported by:




Would you like to learn how to tell impactful stories about your robot or AI system?


scicomm
training the next generation of science communicators in robotics & AI


©2024 - Association for the Understanding of Artificial Intelligence


 












©2021 - ROBOTS Association