Plant robot from Bilkent University is made of soft organic material that behaves autonomously.

Benefits

  • Self‑regulating
  • Self‑healing
  • Autonomous

Applications

  • Robotics
  • Autonomous vehicles

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 7: Affordable & Clean Energy

The Challenge

Robots are typically rigid, robust machines that are programmed to perform specific tasks. These machines are unable to grow or repair themselves if they break. Repair requires human intervention, which can be costly and time-consuming.

Innovation Details

The plant robot is made of simple materials: folded paper cut-outs and sugar gel, with no batteries or motors. This forms a simple organic compound that follows the instruction of biochemical reactions, not pre-programmed software. The plant uses a transpiration-like process with hydration and dehydration to send feedback. The robots also move with the sun, which maximizes the amount of solar energy available to the leaves, similar to a real plant.

Image: Suleyman Doruk Cezan / Bilkent University / Copyright © ‑ All rights reserved

Self‑regulation and embodied intelligence in origami/kirigami paper plant robots. Photo: Suleyman Doruk Cezan/Bilkent University.

Biomimicry Story

Plants use transpiration to help move water from their roots to their leaves by evaporation. Plants also respond to the presence or absence of light in multiple ways. Heliotropism is the directional growth of plants toward sunlight. Nyctinasty is the mechanism in which plants close their petals at night, or in the absence of light. A specific example of this is how flower stalks of snow buttercups track the sun using differential cell growth.