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Appl. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 47;

Swarming Behavior Emerging from the Uptake–Kinetics Feedback Control in a Plant-Root-Inspired Robot

Center for Micro-Biorobotics, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, 56025 Pontedera, Italy
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 November 2017 / Revised: 12 December 2017 / Accepted: 26 December 2017 / Published: 1 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio-Inspired Robotics)
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This paper presents a plant root behavior-based approach to defining the control architecture of a plant-root-inspired robot, which is composed of three root-agents for nutrient uptake and one shoot-agent for nutrient redistribution. By taking inspiration and extracting key principles from the uptake of nutrient, movements and communication strategies adopted by plant roots, we developed an uptake–kinetics feedback control for the robotic roots. Exploiting the proposed control, each root is able to regulate the growth direction, towards the nutrients that are most needed, and to adjust nutrient uptake, by decreasing the absorption rate of the most plentiful one. Results from computer simulations and implementation of the proposed control on the robotic platform, Plantoid, demonstrate an emergent swarming behavior aimed at optimizing the internal equilibrium among nutrients through the self-organization of the roots. Plant wellness is improved by dynamically adjusting nutrients priorities only according to local information without the need of a centralized unit delegated for wellness monitoring and task allocation among the agents. Thus, the root-agents can ideally and autonomously grow at the best speed, exploiting nutrient distribution and improving performance, in terms of exploration capabilities and exploitation of resources, with respect to the tropism-inspired control previously proposed by the same authors. View Full-Text
Keywords: bioinspired control; swarm intelligence; plant-inspired robot; emergent behavior bioinspired control; swarm intelligence; plant-inspired robot; emergent behavior

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary materials

  • Supplementary File 1:

    ZIP-Document (ZIP, 83613 KB)

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.1133335
    Description: The supplementary video (Supplementary Video S1) shows the implementation of the bio-inspired uptake-kinetics feedback control proposed in the paper, into a plant-inspired robot, specifically on the robotic roots. From the video, it is shown how each agent independently moves according to their internal state and local perception, and the immediate response of the uptake–kinetics mechanism that, as soon as the missing nutrient is inserted in the environment, leads to a decreasing of the imbalance of nutrients in the whole plant.

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Del Dottore, E.; Mondini, A.; Sadeghi, A.; Mazzolai, B. Swarming Behavior Emerging from the Uptake–Kinetics Feedback Control in a Plant-Root-Inspired Robot. Appl. Sci. 2018, 8, 47.

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