As if we needed more evidence that we have more technology than we know what to do with, a collaboration between an artist and an engineer has yielded something both whimsical and potentially useful. It gives houseplants autonomy.
Such ideas have been explored in science fiction before—in Vernor Vinge’s novel A Fire Upon the Deep, one race of aliens consists of trees attached to a wheeled base that affords them short-term memory and consciousness. That’s more or less what artist Elizabeth Demaray and engineer Qingze Zou, both faculty at Rutgers, have created in collaboration with their students.
The IndaPlant project aims to create the world’s first “faunaborg,” a three-wheeled, autonomous robot platform “engineered to support the free movement and metabolic function of ordinary houseplants.”