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This Plant Is Driving Its Own Robot


This plant on wheels moves itself closer to the light.

Elowan is a mobile cybernetic plant with a robotic base developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab to demonstrate what the augmentation of nature could accomplish.

Credit: Harpreet Sareen/Elbert Tiao

Elowan is a mobile cybernetic plant with a robotic base, the first in a series of plant-electronic hybrid experiments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab aiming to demonstrate what the augmentation of nature could mean.

The unit's movement is based on the plant's own bio-electrochemical signals, which trigger physiological variations like elongation growth, respiration, and moisture absorption.

With Elowan, electrodes are inserted into regions of interest (stems and ground, leaf and ground), and the weak signals are amplified and sent to the robot to trigger movements.

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

From IEEE Spectrum
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