August 15, 2013 AT 4:30 am

Robotic plant learns to grow like the real thing

Plants could soon have robotic counterparts. Barbara Mazzolai from the Italian Institute of  Technology in Genoa and colleagues are creating a system that mimics the behaviour of roots. The team plans to use bespoke soft sensors for underground exploration, tips that grow by unwinding material and a mechanism to reduce friction when penetrating the soil. The artificial system will be equipped to detect gravity, water, temperature, touch, pH, nitrate and phosphate.

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