Innovation That Matters

The velcro design mimics the catchweed plant | Photo source Pixabay

Biodegradable velcro delivers medicines to plants and monitors growth

Science

Inspired by nature, the design is soluble and 3D printed

Spotted: A new velcro design—developed as part of a European project called GrowBot that focuses on building robots inspired by climbing plants—mimics the micro-hooks found on the leaves of the catchweed plant. Catchweed uses the hooks to climb up and over other plants, leveraging their size and sturdiness to benefit its own expansion. Developed by researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), the biodegradable velcro is made from a soluble, sugar-like substance.

Currently at the concept stage, the velcro is being tested as a means of treating plants, preventively and otherwise, for a variety of diseases. Because the velcro is dissolvable, it delivers the required substance directly into the plant’s vascular system without harming the plant. It also helps prevent waste and reduce the use of pesticides.

Scientists are also working on the new material’s monitoring capabilities in the form of intelligent micro robots. Because the robots can use the micro hooks to move over and around a plant, they can track plant health from a range of angles. This provides farmers with a much more detailed overview of each plant’s immediate climate and wellbeing.

It’s no surprise to find micro robots helping improve plant health as they have been deployed in numerous ways for human benefits. Two recent healthcare robot innovations spotted by Springwise are a thread-like soft robot capable of breaking up blood clots, and a medicine-delivering robot controlled by an external magnet.

Written by: Keely Khoury

Email: barbara.mazzolai@iit.it

Website: iit.it

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