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Plant-inspired Robotics and Bio-hybrid Societies: Applications of Plant and Animal Intelligence in Technological Systems

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Biologically inspired technological methods and also bio-inspired robotics have a long history ranging from automata mimicking animals to the extraction of design principles from natural systems as done in swarm intelligence. Technology and robotics inspired by natural plants is, however, a novel ...

Biologically inspired technological methods and also bio-inspired robotics have a long history ranging from automata mimicking animals to the extraction of design principles from natural systems as done in swarm intelligence. Technology and robotics inspired by natural plants is, however, a novel concept.

The operational principles in plants are very different from those of animals. Their movements are difficult to observe (especially of the roots that grow in soil) and similarly their sensing and decisional capabilities are complex to study. As a consequence, there was a delay in considering plants as a model to develop new robots for which movement, perception and control are essential. As it turned out in recent research, plants are a perfect source of inspiration and they possess great skills such as adaptive behavior and growing a permanent structure. Promising approaches are based on plant biomechanics, growth kinematics, and plant behaviors such as tropisms (growth and motion triggered by certain stimuli). Plants also offer inspiring ideas for fabricating new actuation solutions not necessarily based on animal muscle-like concepts, as well as innovative sensing strategies.

An interesting option is to combine (multiple) plant-inspired robots with natural plants to create bio-hybrid societies, which are formed by close interaction of natural and artificial/technological entities. Plant-inspired robots that, for example, mimic the growth process of natural plants can closely interact with natural plants by providing scaffolding. Other forms of bio-hybrid societies also include animals interacting with a distributed robot system and human beings interacting with each other via a computer network (socio-technical systems). The research objective of bio-hybrid systems is to create and leverage synergies between these two worlds. Instead of having one type of entities to control the others, both have equal roles, and the system is supposed to combine the best of the natural and the artificial world to create higher degrees of complexity. Typically applied concepts are self-organization, distributed control/systems, network theory, adaptive behavior, novel methods of sensing and actuation, etc.

In this Research Topic we would like to collect the most recent research and novel approaches in plant-inspired robotics and bio-hybrid societies which include
• plant-inspired single-, multi-robot,
• plant-inspired swarm intelligence (in alternative emergent behavior),
• plant-inspired (robot) control,
• combined plant-robot experiments and symbiotic plant-robot systems,
• plant, animal, and other organism investigations for robotic applications
• socio-technical approaches with real-world data and simulations,
• reports of novel methodologies, hardware platforms, software frameworks,
• and perspectives on promising future research directions.


Keywords: plant-inspired, robotics, bio-hybrid, animal-inspired, bio-inspired robotics


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