Plants as Sensors (BM064E)

The use of living beings as interfaces with the environment and even for purposes that are still being researched is a reality. We have dealt with this in several articles, videos and lectures. Another news was announced this week (January 2019) showing to what extent we can count on plants being used as an extension of our sensory organs or even independently in the control of automatisms. In this article we deal with it.

We received the news that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers assembled a small robot consisting of a potted plant on wheels. So far, nothing different, but the fact that the pot has a plant and it is the one that controls the movements of the robot.

With electrodes attached to its leaves, the circuit detects the electrical modifications that occur when the plant receives light. Thus, the algorithm created to control the robot makes it “look for light” by moving the system accordingly.

In the MIT photo, we have the look of this interesting robot (which is an excellent theme for our readers as a project).

 

The MIT “Phototropist” Robot
The MIT “Phototropist” Robot

 

 

The author of the project talks about cyborg plants which could not only move but help man-made mechanisms and alike.

We wondered what an interesting idea would be to put a small carnivorous fly swatter plant in a vase and set it up on a robotic base or even drone and make it go after the annoying flies...

 

Carnivorous plant that feeds on insects
Carnivorous plant that feeds on insects

 

 

Right here in Brazil, especially in the southern region, we have the "sensitive" (mimosa pudica) that quickly closes its leaves when touched.

 

Sensitive - Mimosa Pudica
Sensitive - Mimosa Pudica

 

 

This plant has a rudimentary chemical nervous system which allows to communicate sensations captured to other parts of the plant.

Here is a plant suggestion that could be used on a mobile robot which could use the impulses of its leaves when they touch an obstacle.

In the plant world, we have many strange behaviors that could be the basis of new discoveries and artifacts created by technology. For those who like the theme, we have several articles on our website and even suggest the reading of the book "The Secret Life of Plants"

 

P.S. A vegetarian friend of mine reading this article is thinking of attaching an Arduino to a lettuce head. He didn't tell me for what purpose but …

 


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