Elowan is a combination of plant and machine. He notices where the light comes from and drives directly to the light source.
Usually plants are tied to one place. This limits their lifespan if, for example, they are located where there is little light.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, however, gave a plant completely new possibilities.
He moves around freely and searches for his ideal lighting conditions.
Elowan is a combination of plant and machine. He notices where the light comes from and drives directly to the light source.© Harpreet Sareen. License: //creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Sensors control robot plants
Plants naturally have sensors that read conditions such as light, temperature and humidity from the soil.
Among other things, they use that information to grow in the most favorable direction and to follow the orbit of the sun.
Plant cells, like the cells in our nervous system, communicate via electrical impulses.
This allowed the researchers to provide their plants with electrodes that capture electrical signals and send them to a robot cart under the flowerpot.
The result is a hybrid of plant and machine, which was christened Elowan.
Robot plant searches for the light
In experiments where the scientists took turns turning two lamps on either side of Elowan on and off, the plant resolutely drove to the burning lamp.
1. The robot room plant is placed between two lamps, triggering its natural signals and moving towards the light.
2. The right lamp lights up.
3. The electrodes that pick up signals from the leaves ensure that the robot goes under the plant towards the light.
4. If you turn off the lamp on the right and the lamp on the left, the plant changes direction to get to the light.
Technology can optimize solar panels
Although Elowan may initially seem like a fun hobby experiment, there is definitely an idea behind it. The researchers see great prospects for allowing the senses of plants to communicate with technology.
In the future, for example, it may be possible for plants to determine in which direction solar panels must turn on roofs in order to capture as much light as possible.
Robot plants can also be used to control the climate in large office buildings, for example.
VIDEO - this is how the robot plant works:
In the video you can see how Elowan drives back and forth between the lights when they turn on and off.