Generation GrowBots: materials, mechanisms and systems design for adaptable and growing robots inspired by plants

Organizers: Barbara Mazzolai, Ian Walker


“Generation GrowBots” will take attendees across the science and technologies of the new field of plant-inspired robotics, and explore the new paradigm for robot mobility inspired by the moving- by-growing ability of plants.

Plants show unique capabilities of endurance and movement by growth.

Across sea and land, through air and underground, some species of plants are the oldest and largest organisms that have ever existed. They can resist unpredictable external forces – such as wind, waves, or falling debris - and can adapt and move their structure by growing across a variety of unstructured environments.

Together with plant biologists and materials scientists, engineers are deeply investigating the biomechanics, materials, energy efficiency mechanisms, and behavior of a variety of plant species, to take inspiration from them for the design of multi- functional and adaptable technologies, and for the development of a new class of low-mass, low-volume robots unique in their movement and growth abilities.

The proposed workshop will bring together a cross-disciplinary panel of scientists and engineers, including experts in material science, soft robotics, plant biology, and architecture to present new scientific discoveries on plants relevant to continuum, soft, adaptable, and growing robots.

Two sessions of “plants and artificial relatives showcase” will be organised during the coffee breaks, with an exhibition of latest technologies on the topic.

Trends, frontiers and potential applications for a variety of high- tech sectors will be also discussed, including future urban and architectural innovation, clean-energy forms and sustainable robotics ecosystems.