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Towards a new generation of plant-inspired growing artefacts

GrowBot proposes a disruptively new paradigm of movement in robotics inspired by the moving-by-growing abilities of climbing plants. Growth is a very interesting feature of living beings that can inspire a generation of robots endowed with new and unprecedented abilities of movement. Growth involves the cellular activity of both animals and plants, however the evolution of organisms in these two kingdoms is completely different. Animals grow until maturity, while plants grow indefinitely, mostly for their entire life. Animal growth is also known as “determinate” growth, since trajectory and asymptotic size are usually genetically defined and environmental influence has a limited impact. Plant growth, on the other hand, is “indeterminate”, since it extends throughout life. Growth allows a strong adaptation of body morphology to environmental conditions, also called plasticity, that characterizes the plant kingdom1. Differently from animals, plants grow to move, in search for nutrients and light and for protection from harmful agents. This is how plants can provide new paradigms of movement for robots. Grounded on these premises, the long-term vision of GrowBot is to propose alternative patterns of movement in robotics, which are not confined to animal-like, muscle-based movements, but are based on growing. By imitating climbing plants, the GrowBot objective is to develop low-mass and low-volume robots capable of anchoring themselves, negotiating voids, and more generally climbing, where current climbing robots based on wheels, legs, or rails would get stuck or fall.

LogoEnteFinanziatore EU
People involved
Barbara Mazzolai
Barbara Mazzolai
Bioinspired Soft Robotics
Nicola Tirelli
Nicola Tirelli
Polymers and Biomaterials
Project information
Start date
End date
Total budget: 1.507.583,75€
Total contribution: 1.507.583,75€