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posted by martyb on Friday December 07 2018, @02:46AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the sieze-the-light dept.

MIT researchers create a robot houseplant that moves on its own

Meet Elowan, a "cybernetic lifeform" that connects a houseplant with a machine that responds to its basic need for light (and is presumably named after the sentient plant creatures in Starflight 3). When a regular plant needs light, it fires off internal electrical signals that cause it to bend and grow towards it. When Elowan needs light, these internal electrical signals are interpreted by a machine that then simply wheels the plant towards the light. The plant can essentially move itself around because it needs to.

"Plants have natural bioelectrochemical signals inside them," explains Harpeet Sareen, assistant professor at Parsons School of Design. "They get excited in response to environmental conditions and conduct these signals between tissues and organs. Such electrical signals are produced in response to changes in light, gravity, mechanical stimulation, temperature, wounding, and more. They are electrically active systems readily occurring in nature."

Add self-watering and we're good to go.


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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @03:24AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @03:24AM (#771011)

    Is it just me or is reality starting to look more and more like a horror movie ?

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by stretch611 on Friday December 07 2018, @05:25AM

      by stretch611 (6199) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 07 2018, @05:25AM (#771039)

      Feed Me Seymore [youtube.com]

      --
      I think; therefore, I am vaccinated.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @07:32AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @07:32AM (#771071)

      It's you. I mean, except for an Orange Clown in a dangerous position, stressed from all sides by people he has pissed off, you have nobody to be afraid of. Maybe only of the people that put that Orange Clown there.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @08:34PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @08:34PM (#771295)

        you have nobody to be afraid of. Maybe only of the people that put that Orange Clown there.

        Which is several tens of millions of people.

        Thanks. I feel so much better now...

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by DECbot on Friday December 07 2018, @03:28AM (5 children)

    by DECbot (832) on Friday December 07 2018, @03:28AM (#771014) Journal

    I'd like to welcome our new cybernetic plant overloads. I'm sure their young would be delicious in a salad, their elders great lumber, and the middle-aged... I guess there's still some who prefer paper.

    --
    cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Fluffeh on Friday December 07 2018, @04:03AM (4 children)

      by Fluffeh (954) on Friday December 07 2018, @04:03AM (#771024) Journal

      Meanwhile I'm thinking that coming home from work each day to find the plant that should be in the corner of the room crawling towards the middle of the room would get really old, really quick.

      Here's a short list of other things no-one actually wants.

      Socks that randomly separate after being put away into a drawer.
      Cars that move away from the spot you parked them in without telling anyone.
      Fridges that dispose of random items in the middle of the night.
      Showers that turn the water off one tap at a time randomly and without interaction.

      Oh, and newest to the list, plants that move their pot away from where I put them in the room.

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @05:22AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @05:22AM (#771038)

        Strong independent plant don't need no man to tell it where to sit.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @07:14AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @07:14AM (#771065)

        They are not all bad ideas.
        How about a car that automatically finds the nearest charger and plugs in? You can call it back when you need it. How about a fridge that gets rid of spoiled food?

        • (Score: 2) by Hyper on Friday December 07 2018, @09:21AM (1 child)

          by Hyper (1525) on Friday December 07 2018, @09:21AM (#771085)

          How long until it tries to get off the spoiled humans?

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Mykl on Friday December 07 2018, @06:43AM (4 children)

    by Mykl (1112) on Friday December 07 2018, @06:43AM (#771056)

    It's clear that plants are beings with needs, desires and fears. I postulate that they could even be sentient! And you see fit to eat these gentle beings purely for your own gratification when so much meat is readily available? Murderers!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @09:35AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @09:35AM (#771088)

      So, these carrots...

      Keziah: Have been murdered, yes.

      William: Murdered? Poor carrots. How beastly!

    • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Friday December 07 2018, @05:44PM

      by fyngyrz (6567) on Friday December 07 2018, @05:44PM (#771236) Journal

      It's clear that plants are beings with needs, desires and fears. I postulate that they could even be sentient!

      John Wyndham wants a word. [wikipedia.org]

      --
      Say it with flowers - Send a Triffid.

    • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Friday December 07 2018, @08:54PM (1 child)

      by darkfeline (1030) on Friday December 07 2018, @08:54PM (#771303) Homepage

      To play devil's advocate, the sensible vegetarian/vegan objection toward meat is that animals are treated very inhumanely. Such a person wouldn't be opposed to meat that was obtained in a relatively humane manner, like the Hitchhiker cow perhaps.

      Then there are religious vegetarians which, hey, whatever floats your boat as long as you don't try to jam it down my throat.

      --
      Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08 2018, @06:40AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08 2018, @06:40AM (#771452)

        How do you feel about the halal certification tax?

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by deimtee on Friday December 07 2018, @06:46AM (1 child)

    by deimtee (3272) on Friday December 07 2018, @06:46AM (#771057) Journal

    Yeah sure, its a Cybernetic houseplant.
    What it really is, is a robotic triffid.

    --
    No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday December 07 2018, @03:24PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Friday December 07 2018, @03:24PM (#771168)

      Not until they install the poison dart attachment it's not.

  • (Score: 2) by Spamalope on Friday December 07 2018, @02:06PM (1 child)

    by Spamalope (5233) on Friday December 07 2018, @02:06PM (#771136) Homepage

    I have a house plant that doesn't do well in direct summer sunlight. A pot that moved towards the inner edge of the window sill mid day in the summer and rotates the plant so it grows evenly would make the plant happier and would only require it to move 6-8 inches. Still useless in terms of a product worth paying for though.

    On the other hand, something that could determine whether the plant would do better with more or less light (and water/temp/Ph etc) in real time so those things could be optimized would help hydroponics folks.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @07:30PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07 2018, @07:30PM (#771270)

      So a fancy pot growing pot? There's money in that.

  • (Score: 1) by callmeemo on Friday December 07 2018, @02:18PM

    by callmeemo (6445) on Friday December 07 2018, @02:18PM (#771141)

    I was hoping it moved on spindly, spider-like legs, in which the raised base could be of differing sizes and house the components. Some arachnid-plants would add a nice touch to my home, definitely give guests something to talk about. I can only imagine the wheels catching and tipping eventually.

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