Plants may be passive in comparison to animals, but they’re not without survival instinct.
They strive for the sun, growing and twisting to get just the right amount. Unfortunately, beyond that, they’re at the mercy of their circumstances. But what if, just as technology has built upon the natural capabilities of humans, it could do the same for plants. What if it could help plants do something they’ve never done before: rise from the ground and walk?
That’s the idea behind a prototype adapted from HEXA, a robot made by Beijing tech company Vincross.
The prototype consists of a planter situated on top of a six-legged robot. The planter can sense when the plant has too much sunlight, too little, or needs water. When it needs sun, it scuttles into the light. When it’s had enough, it retreats back to the cool shade. For water, it does an agitated dance to alert its human water of its need.
Further making the plant feel like a pet, the robot interacts with humans when it gets close.
Currently, this robot plant-holder isn’t available, but the HEXA robot from which it was adapted starts at $949 USD.
I have a tendency to go worst-case scenario with most robots, but when a robot’s main purpose is to help plants, I can’t help but feel reassured.
I’ve killed so many plants. Humanity has killed so many plants. What a fascinating idea to give plants a certain amount of autonomy (that’s stretching the word, I’ll admit) to move about and ask for what they need. It is an interesting concept not only for house plants, but also to consider on a larger scale. What if bushes and trees could move?
Still, it’s important to think critically about AI and robots while we still have some opportunity to map their course. There’s a reason plants don’t move — ecosystems can’t be full of plants that all move out of bad real estate at will.
On a smaller scale, though, I think it makes complete sense, and I’m sure all my dead succulents would agree.