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Freiburg [Germany] - 22 June 2019


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

Venue: University of Freiburg - Freiburg, Germany
Address: Georges-Köhler-Allee, 101 - Freiburg
Website: rss2019-workshop


Barbara Mazzolai

Director, Center for Micro-BioRobotics (CMBR)
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT)

Ian D. Walker

Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Clemson University


“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 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.
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.
Sessions of “plants and artificial relatives showcase” will be included during the program, with an exhibition of latest technologies on the topic.

List of speakers

(in alphabetic order)

Fundamentals of plant biology for new technologies and robotics

Petra Gruber - University of Akrion, US
Yasmine Meroz - Tel Aviv University, Israel
Nicholas Rowe - CNRS, France
Thomas Speck - University of Freiburg, Germany


Plant-inspired technologies and robotic systems

Yasmin Ansari - Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italy
Marwa ElDiwiny - University of Twente, Netherlands
Mirko Kovac - Imperial College London, UK
Virgilio Mattoli - Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Italy
Barbara Mazzolai - Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Italy
Thrishanta Nanayakkara - Imperial College London, UK
Robert Shepherd - Cornell University, US
Ian D. Walker - Clemson University, US

Agenda of the event

Some pictures of the event

The organizers - Barbara Mazzolai and Ian Walker

Thomas Speck - Invited speaker

Nicholas Rowe - Invited speaker

Special issue

As a result of the workshop success, Barbara Mazzolai, Ian Walker, and Thomas Speck have launched a special issue on Frontiers in Robotics and AI journal for gathering the contributions presented at the 2019 Robotics Science and Systems (RSS) workshop.

Link to special issues' papers

FET Proactive: emerging paradigms and communities
Research and Innovation Action Grant agreement n. 824074