Author Topic: The Cool Robots Thread  (Read 311 times)

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Online John Albert

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The Cool Robots Thread
« on: May 13, 2019, 12:28:13 AM »
A place to share and discuss beneficial and/or interesting robot designs.

I'll kick it off with this little guy:

Quote
This sun-chasing robot looks after the plant on its head

Good robot


By James Vincent | Jul 12, 2018, 6:50am EDT


The robot-plant hybrid, built by Vincross founder Sun Tianqi. Image: Sun Tianqi

Back in school, I remember learning that plants are “heliotropic,” meaning they grow toward light. I always found this oddly touching, as if those green tendrils stretching out to the sun proved the plant was yearning to live. And why not? That is why they do it.

But what if plants could do more than stretch? What if they could move like animals, independent of their roots? Evolution hasn’t got there yet, but it turns out, humans can help. Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has made it happen: modding a six-legged toy robot made by his company Vincross to carry a potted plant on its back.

The resulting plant-robot hybrid looks like a leafy crab or a robot Bulbasaur. It moves toward the sunshine when needed, and it retreats to shade when it’s had enough. It’ll “play” with a human if you tap its carapace, and it can even make its needs known by performing a little stompy dance when it’s out of water. It’s not clear from Tianqi’s post how the plant actually monitors its environment, but it wouldn’t be too hard to integrate these functions with some basic light, shade, and moisture sensors. We’ve emailed for more details.


     
The robo-plant hybrid can move into the sun when it needs to. Image: Tianqi Sun

It can retreat into the shade. Image: Tianqi Sun         

It can even “play” with humans (sort of). Image: Tianqi Sun

And it does a little stomping dance when it needs watering. Image: Tianqi Sun

Tianqi described the project in a forum post last year (which we spotted via The Outline), saying it was a remake of an earlier installation he made in 2014 of a walking succulent (a “Hakuhou” echeveria). He called the project “Sharing Human Technology with Plants.”

Tianqi says that he was inspired by seeing a dead sunflower at an exhibition that was sitting in the shadows for some reason. Plants are usually “eternally, inexplicably passive,” he writes. You can cut them, burn them, and pull them out of the earth, and they do nothing. “They have the fewest degrees of freedom among all the creatures in nature,” he says. But, in the same way that humans have augmented our ability to move with bikes, trains, and planes, technology can give plants new freedom.

“With a robotic rover base, plants can experience mobility and interaction,” writes Tianqi. “I do hope that this project can bring some inspiration to the relationship between technology and natural default settings.”

It’s a beautiful little mod, one that raises all sorts of imaginative possibilities. Having mobile plants would be perfect for people like myself, with homes full of succulents and other plants, who need to move them about so they don’t get burned. But why not dream bigger? Imagine robot planters the size of small bears, lumbering slowly around gardens and parks, looking for a place to sun themselves. It would certainly make us think of vegetation in a new light, and it might even make gardening a bit easier.
https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/12/17563688/robot-plant-hybrid-hexa-vincross-succulent

Offline DevoutCatalyst

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Re: The Cool Robots Thread
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2019, 07:04:04 AM »
When S. Novella said robotic pets, I thought tortoises. This is close to that with no CITES requirements to comply with. Cool robot, John.

Offline 2397

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Re: The Cool Robots Thread
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2019, 07:06:58 AM »
That's a crob.

 

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