© Elliott Brown
© Elliott Brown

Project focus: Flora robotica

Flora robotica is a four-year project running from April 2015 – March 2019 and funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework programme.

Funded chiefly under the Future and Emerging Technologies Pillar, the cross-disciplinary project also covers biotechnology as well as nanotechnology research and innovation.

Experts involved in Flora robotica come from fields as diverse as computer science, robotics, molecular and cellular biology, zoology, advanced mechatronics and environmental sensing, and architecture; and from universities and organisations in Germany, Poland, Austria and Denmark.

The project aims to develop and analyse the symbiotic relationships between robots and plants, as well as to investigate the potential of a plant-robot society able to produce architecture and living spaces.

The Flora robotica website says: ‘Humans, plants, and robots form an internet-connected social garden where desired structures and behaviour patterns emerge based on both local interactions and global interactions with parts of the garden growing at other locations. Hence, the social garden is a cultural system that shows long-term learning and adaptation where all past actions and interactions between the natural and artificial plants are represented in the embodiment of the garden.’

In response to the ‘Knowing, doing and being: cognition beyond problem solving’ work programme, which examines the establishment of new foundations for future robotics and other artificial cognitive systems, Flora robotica envisions a society of bio-hybrids that function in a self-organising, distributed cognitive system capable of growth and development through interaction with humans, resulting in the creation of architectural structures.

Each robotic plant connects wirelessly to the Internet where the developmental plasticity of bio-hybrid systems are explored, and where robots and plants support each other for mutual growth and development.

Go here to find out more.