(Mostly) Harmless Houseplant Wields Machete

close-up image of a philodendron houseplant with electrodes attached, connected to a robot arm holding a machete

In a straight fight between a houseplant and a human, you might expect the plant to be at a significant disadvantage. So [David Bowen] has decided to even the odds a little by arming this philodendron with a robot arm and a machete.

The build is a little short on details but, from the video, it appears that adhesive electrodes have been attached to the leaves of the recently-empowered plant and connected directly to analog inputs of an Arduino Uno.  From there, the text tells us that the signals are mapped to movements of the industrial robot arm that holds the blade.

It’s not clear if the choice of plant is significant, but an unarmed philodendron appears to be otherwise largely innocuous, unless you happen to be a hungry rodent. We hope that there is also a means of disconnecting the power remotely, else this art installation could defend itself indefinitely! (or until it gets thirsty, at least.) We at Hackaday welcome our new leafy overlords.

We have covered the capabilities of plants before, and they can represent a rich seam of research for the home hacker.  They can tell you when they’re thirsty, but can they bend light to their will?  We even held a Plant Communication Hack Chat in 2021.

Thanks to [Niklas] for the tip.

27 thoughts on “(Mostly) Harmless Houseplant Wields Machete

    1. 1) There is another “emergency stop” in the breaker box :-)
      2) You could press it under the plant with 2m of rebar.
      3) Show the plant, that it is not wise to come with a knive to a shootout.

      Number 3 could be difficult in some countries like UK, where AFAIK even the cops do not have guns.

      1. I had the same thought. Plants are living in another tims frame more or less, as far as their perception goes. They’re much slower. Even if they sense things in a time span that we consider “real time”, it will be like in a blink of an eye to them. They can’t react/move that fast. Let’s just think of climbling plants (vines).. Except for feelings like pain or thirst, maybe, which we too can feel in both a short and long amount of time. A scope can answer this partially, at least. Things like pheromones or telepathy are harder to detect or prove, I guess.

    1. Yes. Also this seems to be a real knife, why??? Do you really want somebody to be killed or injured? Put a plastic or wooden knife onto it and call it art, i am fine with that, but with a real knife… Stupid imho.

        1. Especially to Americans, I suppose? 😁 We Europeans usually have no problem with these things and stay relaxed, I think. A dildo mounted on this thing would have been fun to the whole family, I imagine. Not shocking, at all. The ever repeating laughter could likely be heard down the streets.

          Im kidding, of course. Not all NAs are prudish gun lovers. It’s just a stereotype. I hope.

      1. Plants have phototropism, gravitropism and other “movements,” but they are very, very slow.

        Sunflowers turn their flowers a few degrees per hour, and if you could sense the impulses driving the movement, you would have a slowly rotating machete, not those kinds of movements.

        For me, the movements “sensed” are just random noise.

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