Plants are connected to each other by an underground network of fungi that provide them with nutrients, help share resources, and extend their perception abilities.
This mycorrhizal network, known as the Wood Wide Web, plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy natural ecosystems, and in limiting global warming.
The ERC Consolidator grant "I-Wood" will investigate the plant-fungus interactions and pioneer a new paradigm in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence by creating a new class of robots unique in their movement, communication and behavioural abilities inspired by the Wood Wide Web.
The artificial Wood Wide Web will imitate plants' networks morphology, plasticity and communication by employing robotic roots that grow and branch in response to the environment, exchange information, and implement plant-inspired collective behaviours. New knowledge on plant communities will result from a deep investigation and understanding of the Wood Wide Web architecture, networking rules and dynamics, with major significance for biodiversity and climate protection.