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The first eco-friendly fluorescent artificial seed for monitoring soil temperature by using drones

Date: 6.12.2023 

Researchers have invented a new kind of artificial seed to sense environmental parameters without impacting the health of the environment.

Kredit: IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia.The soft robot, named Acer i-Seed, is inspired by natural Acer seeds and can monitor the temperature of the soil by becoming luminescent. It is made of a biocompatible and compostable material, and it has been realized with 3D printing technologies. A drone can be used to spread them out in large areas and study the terrain at a distance.

The artificial seed replicates the aerodynamic behavior of the Acer campestre seed, an Acer species native to Europe. When mature, these seeds detach from the plant and are carried away and dispersed by the wind over large distances.

Interestingly, these seeds exploit a mono-winged peculiar aerodynamic design that allows them to rotate as a helicopter blade while falling. This autorotation lowers the descent speed and allows the seed to stay more in the air, thus increasing the chances of dispersion by wind gusts. The same seed species was one that perhaps inspired the genius Leonardo Da Vinci to draft his "vite aerea."

"This study demonstrates that imitating the strategies or structures of living beings and replicating them in robotic technologies are key elements to obtain innovation with low environmental impact in terms of energy and pollution," said Barbara Mazzolai, Associate Director for Robotics of the IIT and Director of the Bioinspired Soft Robotics (BSR) Lab.

Image source: IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia.






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