For those who are always forgetting to water their plants, meet the Hexa robot created by robotics company Vincross. Hexa is a small, spider-like robot designed for people who’d like to experiment with robotics. But Tianqi Sun, the CEO of Vincross, realized Hexa could serve another function. It could take care of plants for forgetful owners.
The Hexa Robot That Cares For Houseplants
Tianqi was inspired to add this function to the Hexa robot when he discovered a dead sunflower among blooming ones at a sunflower exhibition.
“The dead flower sat in a place that was always in a shadow. I had no idea how it ended up there or why it died – whether it was because of the lack of sunshine or water — but it was just there, and it was dead. I thought if it could move a little bit, take a 30-feet walk out of the shadow to where the other sunflowers were, it would have lived healthily. But it didn’t.”
Therefore, he wanted to make a robot to cater to the needs of plants that couldn’t care for themselves. Hexa was modified to walk its plant cargo into sunlight or shade, depending on what it wants. Once it enters a patch of sunlight, it rotates its “head” to ensure all the leaves reap the sunshine.
When the plant needs water, Hexa stomps its legs to get the owners’ attention. It also does a happy dance when the plant is content. The robot can also play with humans, making the plant more of a pet than ever before. According to Tianqi, this mod of the Hexa robot is intended to be more of an art piece than a functional tool.  He customized the Hexa to have a flowerpot on its head as opposed to its former closed-top design.
Resetting the Default
“Plants are passive,” Tianqi writes on the Vincross forum. “Eternally, inexplicably passive. No matter if they are being cut, bitten, burned, or pulled from the earth, or when they lack sunshine, water, or are too hot or cold, they will hold still and take whatever is happening to them. They have the fewest degrees of freedom among all the creatures in nature. This is simply the default setting that nature gives to plants.”
He continues that people have used technology to over their default setting. For instance, we can’t fly, but we created planes. We can’t swim deep underwater, but we created submarines. So it’s not a far cry to use robotics to give plants their own mobility. “I do hope that this project can bring some inspiration to the relationship between technology and natural default settings.” 
So far, technology and nature are coinciding, and not just with this Hexa robot. For instance, one company created greenhouse tech to help plants grow using UV light and colored quantum dots.
“We make the color of light coming from the sun more consistent and more dialed in to be basically what that optimal spectrum is, but passively, without any electricity,” said Hunter McDaniel, founder and CEO of UbiQD. “So it does ultimately boost crop yield. But it’s energy-saving as well because it’s an alternative to lighting.” 
Although many futuristic films depict a technological-advanced society of gleaming white buildings and a landscape desolate of nature, there is so much potential to bring the two ideas together.
The Hexa robot didn’t begin as legs for a houseplant. The original design is for a “multi-functional, all-terrain robot.” It’s for anyone interested in experimenting with robotics since Hexa could do multiple actions, such as take videos and pictures, climb, walk, and even dance. It contains 720p cameras, a distance measuring sensor, an infrared transmitter, 3-axis accelerometer, among other features. You could even check out suspicious noises at night by sending the Hexa with its night vision camera to investigate without leaving your bed.  It also has built-in WiFi and multiple USB ports. This makes it the perfect hiking or traveling companion since Hexa easily fits into a backpack.
The Vincross website boasts how the Hexa robot would “bring your robotic ideas to life,” but at the price of $1920. A little pricey? Perhaps, but certainly an impressive device.
- “This little robot moves in and out of the sun to care for a plant that lives on its back.” Business Insider. Isobel Asher Hamilton. July 14, 2018
- “Remaking “Sharing Human Technology with Plants” with HEXA.” Vincross. Tianqi. September 2017
- “This ‘quantum dot’ tech helps grow more plants by making sunlight more powerful.” Fast Company. Adele Peters. May 5, 2020
- “This Robot Is Designed To Chase The Sun So Your Plant Will Get All The Light It Needs.” Bored Panda. Neringa Utaraitė. 2020