MIT creates a part robot, and part plant contraption called Elowan

Shane McGlaun - Dec 5, 2018, 7:48 am CDT
MIT creates a part robot, and part plant contraption called Elowan

MIT researchers have created something very weird called Elowan. The researchers say that Elowan is a cybernetic lifeform made up of a plant and a machine. Elowan is able to use its own internal electrical signals to move towards a light when it is switched on.

MIT says that plants are electrically active systems and can conduct signals through tissues and organs when bio-electrochemically excited. These electric signals inside the plant are produced in response to changes in light, gravity, mechanical stimulation, temperature, injury, and other conditions.

MIT is trying to show with Elowan what an augmentation of nature could look like. The movement of the plant is dependent on its own bio-electrochemical signals. For the experiment, scientists put electrodes into the stems and ground, and leaf and ground of the plant. The weak signals that the electrodes record are amplified and sent to the robotic portion to trigger movements to the directions received.

The team says that symbiotic interplay of plants with artificial means could be extended to give the plant nutrition, growth frameworks, or defense mechanisms. In practice, Elowan can turn the robot on and move the plant closer to light when the light is turned on.

The so-called cyborg botany is a new and convergent view of the interaction between design and nature says the researchers. Since plants are active signal networks that are self-powered and can regenerate, they have the “best kind of capabilities that an electronic device could carry” say the researchers.

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