In case you didn’t know, plants can now command robots. Like anything else with nerves, plants emit minute electrical signals that are easily captured by sophisticated sensors and used as inputs. You might now imagine how the leafy cyborg insurrection may start if you used a little imagination.
Artist and researcher David Bowen have equipped an industrial robotic arm with a machete and given a houseplant control over it in an effort to spark that insurrection. What follows is a frantic outburst of anger and swinging mayhem, possibly released by all the times they neglected to water it.
“The system reads fluctuating resistance signals across the plant’s leaves using an open source micro-controller that is attached to the plant. On a machete-holding industrial robot, these signals are “mapped in real-time to the movements of the joints using specialized software,” according to Bowen’s website.
In essence, the plant serves as the machete’s controller, dictating how it swings, jabs, cuts, and interacts with its environment.
The philodendron seems unaware of its newfound power, despite the movements appearing intimidating and occasionally even deliberate. It does, however, highlight how easily even the most straightforward inputs can produce harmful results.
The cutting philodendron will now join a number of other plants that have been electronically connected, such as spinach that can send emails and another plant that Bowen has connected to control a drone.