This Robot Chases the Sun to Keep House Plants Alive

The altered HEXA robot keeps its plant alive by seeking the sun
The altered HEXA robot keeps its plant alive by seeking the sun | © Vincross
Photo of Claire Lancaster
Tech & Entrepreneurship Editor20 July 2018

Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has created a six-legged robot that chases the sun to keep potted plants alive.

After seeing a wilted sunflower in a shadowy corner of a tech exhibition, Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi was inspired to create a robot capable of chasing the sun in order to look after potted plants.

The autonomous robot uses infrared and a 720p camera to sense and seek out the sun when needed, retreat to the shade when it has had enough, and perform a ‘dance’ if its plant needs to be watered.

To create the device, Tianqi hacked the HEXA, a six-legged open-source robot developed by his company Vincross to encourage people without knowledge of complex hardware and mechanics to create interesting robots of varied functionality.

To build the robot – the latest iteration of a project Tianqi began in 2014 called ‘Sharing Human Technology with Plants’ – the entrepreneur equipped each leg with three motors and replaced HEXA’s plastic shell with a custom dual-layer flower pot.

“Human beings go to [the] deep ocean and moon through technology,” Tianqi wrote in a blog post about the device. “Let’s share some of [the] technology with plants, [to] let them at least experience what it is like to experience the simplest of motions.”

Programmable HEXA robots are available on the Vincross site for $949 (£724).

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