Answer: A plant.
When Sun Tianqi saw a flower that had died simply because no one had been there to move it into the sunlight, he thought technology could have provided a solution. A Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur, Tianqi is the founder of Vincross, which makes a toy robot for everyday consumers called Hexa. Tianqi began work modifying one of these robots to be able to carry and look after a plant.
The result looks like a potted plant with legs. But the robot has been programmed to determine when it needs to move in and out of the sunlight in order to properly nourish the plant on top of it. It can also tell when the plant needs more water, performing a mix between a stomp and a dance in order to get a human caretaker’s attention. And it can “play” with people when they tap its carapace, placing its two front legs in their hands.
“With a robotic rover base, plants can experience mobility and interaction,” Tianqi wrote in a forum post last year. “I do hope that this project can bring some inspiration to the relationship between technology and natural default settings.”