ICT Project

Flora Robotica

Credits: -

symbiotic relationships of robots&natural plants, explore plant-robot societies, produce architectural artifac


From April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2019

Keywords: robot plants

Description of the challenges faced by the ICT-Project

We face multiple challenges in robotics, biology, and architecture. To control the growth of natural plants, we have to create the right light conditions that balance the plant’s needs to stay healthy and allow our robotic nodes to use their LEDs to steer the plant growth. Our robots need to sense the presence and the growth of plants, which is a challenge for sensor development. Our experiments are combined robot and plant experiments, which means we have to comply with two different experiment protocols at the same time. For architecture it is a challenge to accept the building process as a continuous process over long periods of time where we do not distinguish between a design and construction phase.

Brief description of technology

We develop braiding robots, robotic nodes, and intelligent filaments. Braided structures are a key element in the project; they serve as scaffolds for natural plants. The braiding robots are small and modular robots that are able to automatically braid sophisticated structures, such as tree-like scaffolds. They are controlled by bio-inspired algorithms that determine where to branch and grow. The robotic nodes are small and static robots that interact with plants by light and sensors. They are able to attract and repel plants to grow desired shapes. The intelligent filaments are equipped with actuators and sensors and can be woven into the braids to create a distributed sensor array and distributed computer.

What the project is looking to gain from the collaboration and what kind of artist would be suitable

We are very open for new ideas and hope for an artistic transfer in the context of exploiting plants to grow desired shapes and forms, using different light spectra to influence plants, and exploring the many possibilities of braiding combined with intelligent filaments. The artist’s work could reflect on general concepts, such as bio-hybrid systems, green infrastructure, or green cities. Our methods can also be applied to urban and vertical gardening, which opens up options to discuss the role of a modern citizen living in an ever growing city. Our flora robotica system is supposed to interact with human beings; hence, one could explore the possibilities of human-plant-robot interactions.

Resources available to the artist

At all possible locations (Uni Luebeck, ITU, CITA), there are well-equipped facilities in terms of tools and materials. Appropriate office space will be made available. Access to the Internet, robotic labs, workshops, etc. will be available. We are very open for a close collaboration of the artist with the PhD students, postdocs, and professors working on the project. Travel between Luebeck and Copenhagen and/or to project meetings can be funded if required.

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