Agroecology encompasses a set of farming practices which explicitly or implicitly seek to understand and work with the complex dynamic processes of an ecosystem in order to produce food in a manner that requires a minimum of external inputs. David Kadish‘s PhD project, Evolving Species One, is focused around how robots could become part of an agroecological system.
The project imagines robots not as farming tools or machines, but as animals integrated into an agroecosystem’s web of relationships. They shape their habitats and form relationships with plants, animals, fungi, and other robots and, in doing so, plant, maintain, and harvest the food that is growing there. To accomplish these types of relationships, the robots behaviours and perceptions are evolved, helping to ensure that their morphologies and environments become integral parts of the ways that they move in the world.
RUBE is the first robot that is being tested as part of the Evolving Species One project, and a ground-based robot is being planned for later this year.