Feed Me, Seymour! Lab Decodes Floral Intelligence

Plant 'brains' may help build better robots
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2007 3:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Plants have signaling and response systems that could make major contributions to robotics and communications research. The controversial field of “plant neurobiology” starts from the assumption that plant biology mirrors the human nervous system—and has a lot to teach scientists and engineers, Wired reports. The head of the world’s only plant intelligence lab says smarts aren’t “only about having a brain.”

Stefano Mancuso and his team want to counteract the notion that human-like feelings are necessary for intelligence. They’ve studied plant synapses and gravity sensing, and Mancuso says some flora have an “extensive vocabulary to convey alarms, health” and more. Robotic “plantoids” may even be used to explore Mars. And venus flytrap smarts may have something on people: “They do it without neuroses.”